How to follow the dark money in politics

  • Event: 2019 CAR Conference
  • Speakers: Michael Beckel of Issue One; Anna Massoglia of Center for Responsive Politics; Andrew Perez of MapLight
  • Date/Time: Friday, Mar. 8 at 3:30pm
  • Location: Salon 1&2
  • Audio file: No audio file available.

Nearly $1 billion has been spent by dark money groups since the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision in 2010. These opaque organizations generally aren't required to disclose their donors, but obscure public records can help you shine a light on their activities and their funders. OpenSecrets.org and MapLight.org have numerous resources available for reporters interested in following the dark money in politics, and Issue One recently published a database of nearly 1,200 transactions detailing contributions from more than 400 unique donors to the leading dark money groups — a database that is searchable online (bit.ly/DarkMoneyData) and on ProPublica's FEC Itemizer tool. 

As the 2020 election cycle ramps up, come learn tips from some of the top dark money sleuths in the country for scouring filings with the Federal Election Commission, Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor, Congress, corporate websites and other sources.

Speaker Bios

  • Since March 2017, Michael Beckel has worked as the research manager at Issue One, a bipartisan advocacy organization in Washington, DC, focused on government accountability, ethics and transparency issues. He previously worked as a reporter at both the Center for Public Integrity and Center for Responsive Politics. Beckel’s exploits have taken him inside the U.S. Supreme Court multiple times, including for the oral arguments in Citizens United. He tweets at @mjbeckel

  • Anna Massoglia is a researcher at the Center for Responsive Politics. She runs OpenSecrets' Dark Money project, tracks political advertising, researches foreign influence, and helped launch the Foreign Lobby Watch project. Anna graduated from N.C. State University and received her J.D. from the University of the District of Columbia Law School. She previously worked as an editor and research analyst at Bloomberg BNA. @annalecta

  • Andrew Perez is a political reporter at MapLight, covering money's influence on politics. @andrewperezdc

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