– Michael Beckel, “What Is Political ‘Dark Money’ – and Is It Bad?” The Center for Public Integrity / publicintegrity.org (January 20, 2016)
Dark money is like dark matter: you can’t see it, but you’re influenced by it.
In Citizens United (2010), the Supreme Court cleared a path for political donors who wanted to exceed legal limits on contributions to candidates and parties. The donors also wanted to remain anonymous. As a result of the Court’s decision, spending by ghostly nonprofits now overshadows “on the books” funding of candidates and parties. In US elections in 2018, dark money from the top three 501c(3) nonprofit contributors grew to $60 million – with $40 million going to liberal campaigns and $20 million to conservative campaigns (Schatzinger and Martin, Game Changer, 2020).
As for dark matter, it is mass that astronomers can’t see but are sure must exist. It must exist because the motion of spiral galaxies is inconsistent with Newton’s universal law of gravitation. The math in Newton’s law says the universe needs about 25 times more mass than we’ve detected so far, to account for the spiral galaxies’ speedy spin. It would be a serious setback for science if the word universal had to be removed from the law of gravitation.
Heigh-ho, proposing a new class of untraceable matter is a radical way to solve an equation, but as Sherlock Holmes might say: Once you’ve ruled out the imponderable, whatever remains must be the truth.
Dark matter, like dark money, is a perplexity of law, accountability, and gigantic unseen forces.
Photo: Karl Stull