Five Misconceptions about “Dark Money”

“Dark money” is a pejorative term for spending on ads urging the election or defeat of candidates by nonprofit groups – typically 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations, 501(c)(5) labor unions, and 501(c)(6) trade associations – that do not report the names and addresses of their individual donors to the government, unless donations are earmarked to fund specific ads. The term evokes an emotional, fearful reaction, and many of the statistics published on the topic aim to mislead rather than enlighten.

This brief provides a clear-eyed analysis of what “dark money” really is and how big a role it actually plays in politics.

Download the PDF file .