A secretive nonprofit group that helped boost Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky during his hotly contested 2014 re-election bid itself raised more money than McConnell’s challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes, according to copies of the group’s tax filings obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.
The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition raised more than $21 million during 2013 and 2014, including $15 million last year alone, according to documents the group filed this week with the Internal Revenue Service. Most of the money came from just a handful of wealthy — and anonymous — donors.
Grimes, a Democrat, raised about $19 million for her campaign, while McConnell, a Republican, raised about $32 million, according to Federal Election Commission reports. McConnell ultimately defeated Grimes by a comfortable margin.
The pro-McConnell Kentucky Opportunity Coalition exemplifies the expanded role certain types of nonprofit groups are playing in politics following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC. That ruling allowed corporations, including some nonprofits that don’t publicly disclose their donors, to spend unlimited amounts of money advocating for the election or defeat of candidates.
Moreover, the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition appeared to work closely on behalf of only one candidate — McConnell — a tactic other nonprofits are now mimicking. Among them is the Conservative Solutions Project, which has spent millions of dollars touting Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida in the Republican presidential primary.
While the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition was a major player in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate contest, voters had little idea who was behind the group, which listed its physical address as a post office box in Louisville, Kentucky.