Under the Dome

Democratic ‘dark money’ also poured into Tillis-Hagan race

A reminder that so-called “dark money” doesn’t benefit only Republicans, who tend to favor looser campaign finance laws as free speech, but also Democrats, who tend to oppose it as speech bought by those who can afford it.

Like it or hate it, big-money interests increasingly line up on both sides of the aisle and have made running for national and some statewide offices impossible without them.

On Thursday, the Center for Public Integrity posted the new tax filings by Patriot Majority USA, which is a social welfare non-profit organization aligned with the Democratic Party. It raised $34 million last year and spent 40 percent of it on politics.

That gave it a huge presence in TV advertising on key U.S. Senate races, especially Kay Hagan’s loss to Thom Tillis in North Carolina. The Center for Public Integrity reports more than 15,000 TV ads were aired in those races.

Half of Patriot Majority USA’s funding came from five anonymous donors, including one donation of $8.25 million. Six other donors contributed seven-figure contributions. The nonprofit has been funded in the past by labor unions and trade groups.

The organization is run by Craig Varoga, who is an ally of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, the Democrat from Nevada. The nonprofit groups don’t have to disclose their donors.

On Tuesday, Dome reported that Karl Rove’s nonprofit machine Crossroads GPS spent almost $26 million on political efforts last year, and bankrolled most of the money that an in-state group, Carolina Rising, spent on TV ads that helped Tillis.

Besides the nearly $5 million that went to Carolina Rising, The Associated Press pointed out that Crossroads also gave millions to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Future Fund, which joined the fight against Hagan.