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Shadowy "Dark Money" Spending Dominating 2012 Presidential Race

New York Daily News

A new study by several public policy groups indicates that half of outside spending is from groups that don't reveal their donors. According to the data, the top five "dark money" groups spent just over $53 million on TV ads for the presidential race. But because of specific tax codes related to nonprofits, these groups do not necessarily have to disclose their donors or the amount they spend to the FEC.

The study was conducted by Demos and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and it analyzed data collected through June 30. (See the full report below). Adam Lioz, one of the authors of the report, said these "social welfare" organizations can spend unlimited amounts of their money on politics.

"How much that [amount] is is a big controversy, because the IRS has never specifically defined how much they can spend," Lioz said. Instead, the FEC has mandated that the primary purpose of these groups cannot be politics, and thus most "are spending up to 49% of their budget on politics," Lioz added.

And though Super PACs have garnered significant attention in the 2012 race, groups that are not required to disclose their information to the FEC may significantly outspend Super PACs. According to estimates collected for the report, these nonprofits are expected to spend up to $900 million on this year's election. Super PACs thus far have raised $312 million for this election.