Dark-money groups were ordered to reveal their donors. They didn’t.


Dark-money political groups are continuing to shield their anonymous donors from public view, despite a recent court order that called for an unprecedented look at their funders. 

A major disclosure deadline passed Monday with few political nonprofits unveiling any donors, and even some of those that did offer a peek at their backers still left the original source of the donations murky. That means that, as in other recent years, voters will head into the midterm elections with little insight into the anonymous donors who have been free to pour unlimited sums into ads and other mobilization efforts that could help determine control of Congress.

“The statute itself is pretty clear, you’re supposed to report all contributors who gave for political purposes. What that means in practice is another question,” said Brendan Fischer, director of federal reform at the good-government group Campaign Legal Center. “Many groups are likely anticipating that the FEC isn’t going to second-guess their assertion that they received no reportable contributions.”

For years, dark-money groups such as Crossroads GPS and Majority Forward have been able to fundraise in relative secrecy, but a series of court orders threw out a regulation that let the groups keep their funding sources private. The Federal Election Commission then told the organizations to reveal anyone who gave money after the ruling for political spending at the end of September.

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