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As Election Day approaches, sources of campaign funding still a mystery

Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • $7 million: Amount Republican donor Bob J. Perry, who helped finance the Swift Boat Veterans campaign against presidential candidate John Kerry, has given to the conservative group American Crossroads for the upcoming election
  • $4.8 million: Amount given to American Crossroads by Robert Rowling, CEO of a company whose holdings include Omni Hotels
  • $15 million: Amount American Crossroads raised in 43 days
  • $24.1 million: Amount American Crossroads has raised this year

FEC should investigate American Future Fund, groups say

American Future Fund, a conservative nonprofit group pouring money into the 2010 midterm elections, appears to be violating campaign finance law, watchdog groups said in a complaint filed this week with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The agency should investigate whether American Future Fund must register as a political committee, which would make it subject to recordkeeping, reporting and disclosure requirements.

Stealth PACs database unveiled

With record amounts of secret money being funneled through nonprofit organizations to influence the upcoming elections, Public Citizen has created an Internet database to track the activity. The new Stealth PACs database, available here, tracks more than 100 groups that are working to influence the elections with large contributions from corporations, unions or wealthy individuals in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s January 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That ruling gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited amounts to influence elections.

1912 Montana campaign finance law is tossed out

A 1912 Montana law banning corporations from making independent political expenditures – money spent on such things as ads to help elect or defeat a candidate – has been tossed out in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United. The Montana attorney general said the state would appeal.

… Meanwhile, judge skeptical of effort to strike down Florida disclosure law

A request by a conservative Florida group for a judge to strike down a Florida disclosure law was met with skepticism. The law requires groups that support or oppose ballot measures to form political committees and disclose the identities of their donors.

“Isn’t this just a little too convenient,” U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle asked. “If a group of law students got together and wanted to come up with a fictitious case, they couldn’t do any better.”

Chamber relies on a few wealthy corporate donors

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has increasingly relied on a few major corporate donors, including Dow Chemical, Goldman Sachs, Prudential, Chevron Texaco and others, The New York Times reports. The Chamber doesn’t disclose the names of its donors, but Times reporters learned of some of them by analyzing corporate reports posted on company websites and tax filings.

Oil industry has spent $68.5 million this year on misleading ads, group says

The oil industry and its allies have spent $68.5 million on misleading television election ads, according to the Center for American Progress Action Fund. The group looked at the spending of 13 organizations, ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the National Association of Manufacturers.

Dems ask FEC to crack down on foreign involvement in elections

Fifteen Senate Democrats have asked the Federal Election Commission to update its guidelines to ensure foreign interests can’t influence U.S. elections. The request stems from concern generated by ThinkProgress, which earlier this month published a blog post saying that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has used foreign donations to buy election ads, an accusation the Chamber denies.

Money from foreign companies already goes to elections – legally

Overlooked in the flap over whether the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is using foreign donations to fund elections ads is the fact that money from foreign companies already goes to elections – and it’s legal. How? Political action committees connected to foreign-based corporations have donated money to candidates and parties – $60 million over the past decade, according to The Washington Post. The corporations include GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, both British drug manufacturers, and Anheuser-Busch InBev, based in Belgium.

Big Republican backers already planning for the next one

Big-money Republican donors are planning a retreat at a California resort in January to plan for the next election, The New York Times reports. The secretive group is assembling at the invitation of Koch Industries, which has spent millions combating climate change initiatives.

Taking his ball and going home

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito may skip the next State of the Union address, the Washington Times reports. You may recall that Alito shook his head and mouthed the words “Not true” when President Barack Obama criticized the court earlier this year for its Citizens United ruling. Apparently Alito is considering boycotting this year.

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