‘Pop-up’ super PACs spent millions on the 2018 election without disclosing donors, FEC filings show

The Washington Post

A mysterious Texas-based super PAC that received $2.3 million from undisclosed donors to run last-minute ads in support of Democrat Rep. Beto O’Rourke was funded by the Senate Democrat-aligned Senate Majority PAC, according to new federal election filings made public Thursday evening.

SMP donated the money to the super PAC, Texas Forever, in a way that circumvented federal election deadlines that trigger donor disclosure — an increasingly common tactic employed by both Democrats and Republicans this election cycle that, while legal, critics say violate the spirit of disclosure requirements for super PACs.

The O’Rourke campaign raised another $10 million in donations after mid-October — bringing his total fundraising for his failed Senate bid to a record-high $80.5 million and making him one of the most successful fundraisers in American politics. Half of the $10 million came from donations under $200.

Campaign Legal Center, which advocates for stricter regulation of money in politics, estimated in a new report that such super PACs spent upward of $29 million in the final weeks of the 2018 election without disclosing their donors or reporting the full extent of their spending before Election Day. Many of the groups appear to have local ties, with a mailing address based in the district or the state, and a name that suggests local donors launched or funded the group, said Brendan Fischer, who directs the federal regulatory work of the Campaign Legal Center.

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