Liberals may blame conservatives for the ongoing surge of political “dark money” dominating the 2014 midterm elections. But Democrats are now taking full advantage of these secretive, free-wheeling political behemoths, while at the same time, bemoaning their influence.
At the forefront: the nonprofit Patriot Majority USA, which is providing Democrats with a countervailing force against the political machine of conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch while using a similar playbook.
This election cycle, Patriot Majority USA has spent more than $7 million on political advertisements, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. That makes it the largest Democratic-aligned dark money operation in the country.
Every dollar has fueled negative messages that call for the defeat of Republican politicians, who are seeking to pick up six Senate seats in November to win control of Congress’ upper chamber and who have generally seen more support from dark money groups.
The union-backed Patriot Majority USA is led by a staunch ally of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who has demonized the Koch brothers as “un-American” and railed against “hidden dark money which is corrupting our elections.”
The Senate races raging in Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina are of particular interest to Patriot Majority USA, which has run more than 11,000 TV ads across the three states, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of data provided by Kantar Media/CMAG, an advertising tracking service.
The group has accounted for about one out of every nine ads aired in the Arkansas Senate race, one of every eight in Louisiana and one of every 13 in North Carolina.
That approaches — though does not yet match — the number of ads aired by the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity.
“They want to spend their money in places where they think they can do some good,” said Charles Prysby, a political science professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.