Campaign Financing: Where Does the Money Come From?


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Kate Vavrousek

Where does the money for campaign finance come from? According to a US News Article, nobody really knows. Or more accurately, the people don’t know. A large portion of campaign funds comes from “outside sources,” like NGOs, Super PACs, and 501(c) organizations.

One of the most powerful “dark organizations” – donors who do not have to disclose their campaign donations – is “Freedom Partners.” In an article  accessed from, Robert McGuire stated  that “[o]f 19,240 recognized trade associations that filed tax returns in 2012, Freedom Partners’ revenues clocked in at No. 9. In its first year, this group outraised established heavyweights such as the National Football League, the American Petroleum Institute, PhRMA, and the Chamber of Commerce — all of which fall under the same tax classification.” What’s more, Freedom Partners is backed by the Koch brothers – no agenda there, I’m sure…

Here are a few visual representations of campaign spending:

“Political nonprofits spending by type”

Donor Disclosure Analysis of Outside Spending 1990 – 2012

“Dark Money” Diagram

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  1. shin1505

    I’ve never quite understood why people/companies believe that they have the right to donate anonymously to a political group running in a democracy. In my opinion- if you want your “freedom of speech”, then everybody should be able to know who is speaking.

  2. Millie Goebel

    I am really curious to see what the next cycle of elections will look like with the latest ruling by justice John Roberts to remove restrictions to individual donations.


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