Special interest groups outside the Democratic and Republican parties have spent $80 million on midterm election campaigns this year, five times the amount spent at the same point in 2006. Even more striking, the vast majority of the money is coming from conservative organizations, which have outspent Democratic-aligned groups by 7 to 1 in recent weeks, the Washington Post reports
The disparity apparently stems, at least in part, from a Supreme Court ruling
earlier this year that removed spending limitations on unions, corporations and other interest groups.
"The outside group spending is primarily being driven by the political climate," said Anthony Corrado, a professor of government at Colby College who studies campaign finance. "Organized groups are looking at great opportunity. . . . You've got the possibility of a change in the control of Congress."
The Post reports that one of the biggest spenders is Iowa-based American Future Fund, which has pumped out $7 million in support of Republicans in more than two dozen House and Senate races. Donors were not disclosed in records the group filed with the Federal Election Commission.
That lack of disclosure aligns with another trend of the 2010 elections, which is that much of the spending is being "conducted largely in the shadows," the Post says. Overall, less than half of donors' identities have been disclosed. In the last midterm cycle, that figure was over 90 percent. Many interest groups are organized as nonprofits, which are not required to disclose their financial backing.