by Max Brantley
The least surprising news of the day, but useful confirmation nonetheless. A new report from the National Institute on Money in State Politics about most states' failure to require meaningful disclosure of independent spending in state political races.
In 30 states it is impossible to calculate how much money is being spent on campaigns by outside groups like 'social welfare' nonprofits - information that is mostly available when it comes to federal contests.
And in 35 states, disclosure laws are less stringent than federal election laws, meaning shadowy nonprofit groups and big-spending super PACs are able to do business virtually undetected in many races, according to a new report.
Dark money rules here. Think the Koch front, Americans for Prosperity, but, by comparison with some, it is somewhat upfront about its efforts.
Arkansas was one of 26 states getting a grade of F on requiring disclosure of campaign spending. And the rankings didn't even consider the anonymity of the contributors to many of the groups that spend "dark money." The Institute notes:
Increasingly, ''social welfare'' nonprofits and trade associations are being used to hide donors' identities in both federal and state races.
Here's the scorecard, with points awarded in six categories. Arkansas got a zero in five of them, but was awarded the maximum 30 points for requiring reporting of independent expenditures that expressly advocate an election outcome, but not who was targeted by the expenditures or what the spender's position is. It got a zero for having no reporting requirement on electioneering communications.
Ask your Republican majority legislator if he or she would endorse fuller reporting of independent campaign expenditures.