Democratic activists, donors plan separate paths for disclosed and undisclosed money in 2012 election


Just announced chairwoman of Democratic Super PAC American Bridge Kathleen Kennedy Townsend:

“American democracy has to be based on transparency, and who’s giving and why are they giving.”

To which I say, hear hear.

American Bridge is not the first Super PAC on the Democratic side of the aisle, but it could be the biggest in the 2012 election. It would be good if this were the position they intended to stake out.

It looks, however, that despite the affirmation of disclosure, the activists organizing around the new group are going to follow the path of their Republican counterparts American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS. American Crossroads’ fundraising did not take off until they spun off Crossroads GPS to open an avenue for secret donations. According to the New York Times, American Bridge organizer David Brock is open to creating an avenue for undisclosed money:

Certain to set off debate, however, is that Mr. Brock appears to be positioning his new organization so that fund-raising consultants can raise money for Democratic-oriented media efforts not just through American Bridge but also via one of the nonprofit organizations Mr. Brock currently runs, Media Matters Action Network, which does not disclose its donors.

The action network, which tracks conservative politicians and advocacy organizations, is organized as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit group and is set to take on an expanded role in the 2012 elections, including potentially running television ads, according to an internal draft concept paper about American Bridge’s and Media Matter Action Network’s plans obtained by The New York Times.

Mr. Brock said that “money is money,” and that he would actively solicit donors for both entities and, in the end, the media spending would be apportioned accordingly.

Brock has also stated that American Bridge and Media Matters Action Network are “completely separate organizations.”

The precedent of the 2008 election was a dangerous one. It looks as though it will become more entrenched–barring the passage of the DISCLOSE Act or another act of Congress. That precedent has been backed up by some serious voices on the right who are apparently opposed to transparency. Here are some examples.

One can certainly assume that the amount unlimited, secret money will increase by large amounts in the coming election.