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Reporter’s notebook: How we came up with that campaign finance maze

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If it makes you all feel any better, campaign finance is hard for us too.

At the Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group, we make a speciality of money in politics reporting, so when the dark money groups that we often cover burst into the headlines -- on reports that the Internal Revenue Service was denying the coveted tax exempt status to Tea Party groups -- we figured it was time to put what we know about the campaign finance ecosystem out there.

The process turned out to be revealing, if painful.

You can see the final product here. But we learned a lot ...

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Rebuttal to McConnell’s War of Misinformation on DISCLOSE Act

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A war is being waged against the DISCLOSE Act. Its Commander in Chief is Senator Mitch McConnell, his secret weapon is misinformation and his goal is to protect unlimited dark money contributions to the political process. It’s time for a counter-attack. Mitch McConnell Last week, McConnell outlined his plan of attack in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute. Wrapping himself in a narrow and self-serving interpretation of the First Amendment, McConnell casts liberals as the enemies of free speech and he and his foot soldiers (the Chamber of Commerce) as the true protectors of our constitutional rights. But take apart his arguments and it is easy to spot his true intentions—not to protect the free speech rights of all citizens, but to protect the ability of wealthy donors to anonymously influence our democratic process. The Sunlight Foundation refutes the worst inaccuracies being lobbed against reasonable efforts to disclose the dark money that is infiltrating our elections. This Orwellian tactic is timed to defang public support for the DISCLOSE Act, which the Senate is likely to consider in July.

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Super PACs, other groups, fuel four-fold spending increase in 2012 presidential race

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Outside groups, including super PACs and nonprofit organizations, have spent almost four times more on the 2012 presidential campaign than comparable organizations spent at the same point in the 2008 cycle, an analysis of Federal Election Commission filings show.

Four years ago in late March, when Republicans had already wrapped up a wide-open battle for their party's nomination and Democrats were still engaged in a battle that would go on for months, spending on the presidential campaign by independent groups stood just shy of $22 million. Today, outside spending on the race for the White House has already topped ...

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