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Big Spending by Outside Groups, but No Disclosure

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According to the Reporting Group's Follow the Unlimited Money tool, the 60 Plus Association has spent $5.1 million this election cycle running ads to oppose 14 Democratic lawmakers. In 2008 the group spent just $2 million--a total which, incidentally, meant the "conservative alternative to AARP" operated in the red.

Yesterday, Slate ran a piece highlighting the mystery behind 60 Plus--particularly who's flooding it with money. 60 Plus is organized under the internal revenue code as a 501(c)4 organization; as such, the group does not have to disclose its donors. Slate reported that one of the candidates 60 Plus attacked, Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., has responded through his campaign that 60 Plus's agenda is to "destroy Social Security." A campaign spokesperson also said they believe the drug industry is bankrolling the effort, but pharmaceutical representatives deny that.

From Slate:

"The problem facing Democrats wasn't just this huge new influx of enemy cash. It was also that they had no idea where 60 Plus was getting that money from. (As a 501(c)4 organization, 60-Plus does not have to disclose its donors and only needs to detail where money has come from in annual 990 forms.) In 2006 and 2007, it spent $1.2 million and $1.9 million. Now it's dumping $6 million on ads?"

The Reporting Group has also written about groups that raise money in the shadows but spend very publicly in an effort to accomplish their agenda come Election Day. CSS Action Fund is a group acting similarly for the Democrats. They ran ads to support Patty Murray in Washington.