Disclaimer: It’s not possible to know with certainty who are the top dark money donors, owing to the lack of transparency in dark money transactions. Instead, we have chosen to compile a list of six people who play influential roles in the world of dark money.
Nick Ryan is a Republican political strategist. The Iowan is president of Global Intermediate, a political communications firm, and founder and president of Concordia Group LLC, a public affairs firm. In the 2016 election cycle, Ryan chaired a super PAC that supported Republican Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign.
In 2007, Ryan founded American Future Fund. On its website, American Future Fund says it was “formed to provide Americans with a conservative and free market viewpoint.” Until 2012, the Fund received much of its support -- more than $77 million -- from organizations and individuals connected to Charles and David Koch. In 2013, California regulators said the organization acted as an intermediary for groups that were later fined for not properly reporting political contributions. The Fund was subsequently "exiled from the Koch network," according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Since then, other high-profile 501(c)(4) conservative organizations, including Crossroads GPS and the Judicial Crisis Network, have provided financial support to the organization.
involvement in federal and state elections:
The Fund has spent millions in the last two presidential election cycles: In 2016, the group targeted a few 2016 Republican presidential primary candidates -- including John Kasich and Ted Cruz -- but its main focus was opposing Donald Trump. The group spent nearly $6.8 million opposing Donald Trump and $3 million combined opposing Kasich and Cruz. In 2012, the group spent over $12 million to support Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and over $7 million opposing Barack Obama. In midterm election cycles, the group has supported conservative House and Senate candidates.