So-called "dark money"
groups that spend mysteriously sourced funds in political campaigns have been fined $1 million
in California for failing to follow disclosure rules. The groups were linked by California regulators to the billionaire Koch brothers, who've meddled heavily in Arkansas, particularly to take over the Arkansas Senate, defeat environmental regulations down to the Pulaski County level and otherwise support conservative Republican corporatist causes.
The shadowy groups spent $15 million in California to cripple unions and fight a tax increase.
Anonymous money funneled through social welfare nonprofits and trade associations has become a major factor in federal elections since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in early 2010 opened up the door to unlimited corporate and union spending on outside ads, as documented by ProPublica. In the past two election cycles, social welfare nonprofits have spent more than $350 million, mostly from unknown donors, on election ads telling people to vote for or against federal candidates.
Some national groups have also started playing on the state level, particularly with ballot proposals.
The shadowy money will be much in evidence in Arkansas in 2014, certainly to help Tom Cotton
try to unseat Sen. Mark Pryor.
(A key architect of the Citizens United ruling threw a fund-raiser
for Cotton in D.C. this week.) That money will likely appear in the race for governor and elsewhere, including the state legislative races.