The simple fact that the one of “largest, most complex dark money networks” is backed by the Koch brothers should tell you something about dark money. Namely, that it ain’t good. Just ask yourself when the last time you heard the Koch brothers were up to good ? (Sure, ‘good’ is a relative term, but, c’mon, it’s the Koch brothers!) And in politics, as with nearly any endeavor you might consider, things done ‘under the covers’ can be widely assumed to be employed for purposes and agendas that suit only a fraction of the population. In this case, the Koch brothers and their coterie of .001%ers.
Like most things in the modern land of US politics the issue of dark money seems to be a non-starter. If people are willing to overlook what’s coming out of the current White House administration, well, it’d be a fine sight indeed to see them up in arms over something as little known and misunderstood as dark money. To begin with, it sounds more like a plot point in whatever movie Tom Cruise stars in next than a problem plaguing the political landscape. It could even be the title. Dark Money starring Tom Cruise. (Tom Cruise if you’re reading this I’m completely fine with taking producer credits!)
While there are “promising strategies” proposed by the SEC to staunch the flow of this corporate dark money, next to little (as in nothing) has actually been done about it. It’s a practice that’s not only unfair to the public at large but also, and perhaps especially so, the shareholders in the corporations giving these dark money donations (as companies rarely share freely the destination of their pledges). In other words, if you’re interested in buying stock in a company and you were a staunch anti-abortion proponent would you want to give your money to a company that donates to causes and politicians that might promote pro-abortion views and laws? Or vice versa?
Of course not. At least those of us with any sort of moral compass, no matter what political direction it may blow.
Likewise, even if you’re simply a civilian consumer, you’ll more than likely want to to be privy to where your hard-earned dollars are going. Most human beings with even a modicum of logical based reasoning abilities have no interest in helping fill the coffers of companies and corporations that are willing to gamble where their monetary support might be headed, via these dark money donations.
Let’s say you’re very much in favor of gay rights and love to shop at Target, both due to their publicly acknowledged support of gay rights and because, thank God, it’s not Wal-Mart. How do you think you would feel if you discovered they had betrayed you? That they had given, say, $150,000 to a cause that ended up backing a political candidate running on an anti-gay marriage platform?
For those who weren’t aware, this is exactly what happened in 2010 when Target gave money to MN Forward. True, what happened to the money once it left Target’s pockets was largely unknown and out of their control. But that’s the rub. If they don’t know themselves what pipes this dark money is funneling through then no one down the chain, the investors, the mes and yous, those of us that companies like Target, in the end, answer to, can’s possibly know either.
The good news is dark money donations are in decline, at least they were for the 2016 election cycle. And while it’s true that these types of donations have never been an overly large slice of the election campaign spending pie (roughly 5%) the recent drop of nearly half that is very significant (2.9%). We’re living in a political climate where politicians are more and more winning their races on razor thin margins and often, though not always (hello, Hillary Clinton), a little extra money can go a really long way.
Dark money isn’t going anywhere soon unless the SEC finally manages to hammer out a regulated crackdown and make full disclosure the law of the land. It stinks, not knowing where your money is going. That you might just very well be handing money to a business that is betraying your beliefs and what you thought were their beliefs as well. Just some of the things you might want to consider before next plunking your money down at a store you like to shop at or you look into buying some stocks.
Oh, wait. That’s right. You can’t.