Democratic Party-aligned “dark money” powerhouse Patriot Majority USA collected half of the $30 million it raised last year from five anonymous donors, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of a new tax filing from the group.
Patriot Majority USA was a major player in the Democrats’ failed bid to retain control of the U.S. Senate last year — a time when many Democratic candidates decried the influx of “dark money” in politics.
Led by Craig Varoga, a staunch ally of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., it was a particularly prolific force on television.
The group aired more than 15,000 TV ads in key Senate races, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of data provided by advertising firm Kantar Media/CMAG, which monitors broadcast and national cable TV ads. Not a single one was positive.
In all, 40 percent of the $34 million Patriot Majority USA spent in 2014 went toward “direct and indirect political campaign activities,” according to the group’s new tax filing — nearly $13.7 million.
But like other “social welfare” nonprofit groups organized under Sec. 501(c)(4) of the tax code, Patriot Majority USA is not required to publicly disclose the names of its donors.
Thus, it’s largely unknown who funded its political operations, which proved generally unsuccessful as Democratic incumbents lost in races across the country, including Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina, where the nonprofit group was the most active.
Such opacity contrasts with many Democrats’ rhetoric decrying secret money in politics and organizing to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The ruling, in part, freed certain nonprofit groups to spend massive amounts of money on politics while withholding information about their contributors.