CLC and Issue One Send Letter to FEC Chair: Get to Work on Dark Money


WASHINGTON, DC - Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and Issue One today sent a letter to recently confirmed Federal Election Commissioner (FEC) Chair Trey Trainor urging him to take action on the flood of secret or “dark” money flooding U.S. elections, drowning out the voices of everyday Americans. The letter is a response to a recent interview with Trainor where he dismissed the threat posed by “dark money” and downplayed the effects of secret money flooding our elections. 

CLC President Trevor Potter, who is a Republican former FEC commissioner, said: “The problems associated with large amounts of secret spending in our elections is a nonpartisan one. When wealthy special interests (foreign or otherwise) dump money into campaign coffers, voters have a right to know their origins and deserve a campaign finance watchdog looking out for their interests. There is a reason 80% of voters of all political stripes are concerned about dark money — its interference in our elections affects our ability to fully participate in the democratic process and our ability to self-govern.” 

Issue One Executive Director Meredith McGehee added: “It’s a dereliction of duty for the FEC to sit on its hands when it comes to dark money. The FEC has not only the power but a responsibility to shine a light on those who are trying to anonymously influence our elections. Increasingly, both Democrats and Republicans are using secret money, and Americans should not be left in the dark about who is trying to sway their votes.” 

The letter stated: “The FEC has a vital role and responsibility — indeed, a statutory mandate — to address secret election spending and to protect voters’ right to know which wealthy special interests are secretly spending millions of dollars to influence our vote and our government. This mandate was upheld by the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. FEC in an opinion joined by eight of nine justices then on the court.” 

The letter continued: “Once the Commission’s quorum is again restored, the agency can and should proceed with a rulemaking that will protect voters’ right to know the sources of funding for independent expenditures, and the agency should additionally proceed with a rulemaking to guarantee the fulsome disclosure of donors who fund electioneering communications. Moreover, the Commission should commit itself to diligently enforcing FECA’s transparency requirements."

Created in the wake of the Watergate scandals, voters and taxpayers deserve more from a watchdog agency. Corruption and the outsize influence of wealthy special interests continue to insert themselves in obvious and covert ways into our political process — we need a cop on the beat.

Read the full letter here