This week the Watchdog (the Center's email newsletter, which you can subscribe to here) points out two new investigative reports that shed light on how big money continues to saturate politics in the U.S.
The first, “D.C.-based groups spent big in special elections,” is a Center for Public Integrity analysis of carpetbagging super PACs and nonprofit groups that are dominating this year’s special congressional elections.
The second, from the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, is an exhaustively researched report and the most detailed analysis to date of the political spending of the Koch brothers.
The Center report notes that unlimited outside spending by out-of-state groups is a potential harbinger of the 2014 midterm elections. It seems that even the sleepiest locales aren’t immune from major out-of-state, cash-flush special interests.
So far this year, just 4 percent of the $12.4 million spent by political groups or party entities on congressional races came from groups based within the state where they’re doing their spending, the Center analysis shows.
Such spending by outside groups has become a pivotal element in elections thanks to the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allowed super PACs, unions and certain nonprofits to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to advocate for or against political candidates.
Where is this flood of outside cash coming from? Washington, D.C., is far and away the biggest source of funding. In all, groups with headquarters in the nation’s capital account this year for about two-thirds of independent expenditures on congressional races. That figure jumps to nearly 72 percent when factoring in organizations from New York City and the D.C. suburbs.