Vox: Marco Rubio’s operation is relying on unprecedented dark money spending


Campaign finance watchdogs are appalled. "Never before" have we seen an anonymously funded group like this "seemingly shoulder sole responsibility for a presidential candidate’s TV advertising in multiple early presidential primary states," says Paul S. Ryan of the Campaign Legal Center. "It's a huge new problem." (A Rubio spokesperson didn't respond to a request for comment on the topic.)

  • Perhaps most significantly — in contrast to several other major candidates, Rubio’s own campaign hadn’t paid for any TV ads at all yet as of mid-November. (It justreleased its first ad on Monday.) This hesitance was likely because the campaign knew the Conservative Solutions Project had Rubio covered on the airwaves. "The candidate can stand back and not make a single TV ad buy, knowing that his ad campaign is being bankrolled by this dark money group," says Ryan of the Campaign Legal Center.

Accordingly, complaints against the nonprofit have been filed with the IRS (by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) and the Justice Department (by Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center). "My view is that this group is likely violating federal campaign finance law — any group trying to influence the election is supposed to register as a PAC and disclose its donors," says Ryan.

Furthermore, there's the precedent that's being set — which stretches far beyond Rubio. "If the Conservative Solutions Project gets away with this, then it will become the new normal," says Ryan. "Candidates will offer a dark money option to any of their billionaires who don’t want to be publicly associated with the candidate for whatever reason." Billionaires could be able to secretly fund these operations with impunity.

To read the full story at Vox, click here