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Dark Money

Dark Money and the Mass Fiscal Alliance

Over the past few years, the Mass Fiscal Alliance has mailed countless campaign brochures to Massachusetts voters attacking local elected officials who are Democrats with false accusations.

Voters want to know who is trying to influence our local elections by paying for the Mass Fiscal Alliance’s attack mailers.

The short answer is that we don’t know which corporations or individuals are paying for these attacks. MassFiscal is using undisclosed “dark money” to fund election efforts. The Alliance is very secretive about who funds its operations, and it operates with ZERO transparency. Information on this page has been gleaned from Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance public filings with the Internal Revenue Service, the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, other official sources and trusted media reports.

The Mass Fiscal Alliance operates through an Internal Revenue Service loophole that allows it to spend unlimited money on political activities — such as the negative mailers you may have received in the mail — without disclosing which corporations or individuals are funding MassFiscal’s activities. How does it get away with this? By claiming to be nonpartisan and by claiming to promote “social welfare.” Unfortunately, it does this by falsely describing votes to make far-right candidates look good and moderate Democrats look bad. The Mass Fiscal Alliance is everything that we the people should fear since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United allowed unlimited anonymous corporate money to be poured into small-town political campaigns, influencing your vote with proven falsehoods.

The Mass Fiscal Alliance has plenty of dark money to pour into our elections – it raised $184,186 in 2012 alone, according to the group’s tax returns. Even worse, the money comes from anonymous sources that the alliance has pledged never to reveal!

MFA Tax form

 

Center for Responsive Politics on Dark Money Basics

What Is Dark Money?

“Dark Money refers to political spending meant to influence the decision of a voter, where the donor is not disclosed and the source of the money is unknown. Depending upon the circumstances, Dark Money can refer to funds spent by a political nonprofit or a super PAC. Here’s how:

  • Political nonprofits are under no legal obligation to disclose their donors. When they choose not to, they are considered Dark Money groups.
  • Super PACs can also be considered Dark Money groups in certain situations. While these organizations are legally required to disclose their donors, they can accept unlimited contributions from political nonprofits and “shell” corporations who may not have disclosed their donors, in these cases they are considered Dark Money groups.

Dark Money groups account for staggering gaps in understanding exactly how each funding dollar is being spent during political elections. These gaps are becoming wider with every election cycle. Political organizations working to influence the 2016 elections outside party or official campaign structures spent more than $15 million in 2015, and only reported about $5 million of that to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). For comparison, that $5 million alone is more than ten times more than what had been reported at this point in 2011, before the last presidential election cycle.”

Learn More about the secret use of Dark Money on OpenSecrets.org