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Here’s what we know about some of the influential groups behind dark money. The dollar figures represent the amount of money each group has reported spending so far in the 2016 election cycle.
(Source: The Center for Responsive Politics)

People

Todd Ricketts has been involved in Republican politics for years. In 2016, he ran two dark money organizations and a super PAC.   He is a son of Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade and a prominent GOP donor. The Ricketts family owns the Cubs. Ricketts and his wife are also co-owners of a bike store outside of Chicago, Higher Gear.   Ricketts and his family were initially part of the “Never Trump” movement, prompting a tweet from then-candidate Trump warning them to “be careful.” The Ricketts switched their position, however, after the real estate mogul became the GOP’s presidential nominee and began raising millions of dollars to support his campaign.   In early December, Trump named Ricketts to be deputy commerce secretary.
Conservative

Thomas Donohue is the President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit association. On its website, the Chamber says it represents “the interests of more than 3 million businesses.”
Conservative

Since 2015, Rebecca Lambe has been a governing officer of Majority Forward, the top-spending liberal dark money group in the 2016 election cycle.   Before joining the organization, Lambe worked for Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC focused on helping Democrats win U.S. Senate seats.   Lambe had spent five years working for Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada), becoming his chief political strategist and campaign manager in 2010 and helping him win re-election.   Reid has called Lambe “a genius,” and political operatives in the state have credited her with overhauling Nevada’s Democratic party, increasing voter registration, and helping Democratic candidates win local races.
Liberal

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.
Conservative

Karl Rove is a political strategist and former top adviser to President George W. Bush. After Bush left office, Rove became a commentator for several news organizations including Fox News and The Wall Street Journal.
Conservative

Charles and David Koch are perhaps the best known names in dark money. The brothers run Koch industries, the second-largest private corporation in America. Each controls a fortune of worth an estimated $42 billion, according to Forbes. They have used their personal wealth to build a powerful political advocacy network aimed at promoting their free-market economic views and supporting like-minded candidates. Today, that network rivals the Republican party, according to a Politico analysis. The Koch brothers became politically active in the late 1970s. In 1977, Charles Koch helped co-found the Cato Institute, the country’s leading libertarian think tank. In 1980, David Koch was the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate. In the early 2000’s, the brothers began expanding their network’s influence through politically active nonprofits and other groups. The Koch network now includes more than forty conservative or libertarian organizations involved in lobbying, political advocacy, or policy research. As a result of their network, the Koch brothers wield considerable influence among conservative donors and politicians. They host retreats for donors who contribute at least $100,000 a year to various groups backed by their network. In June, Charles Koch said the network’s 2016 budget was roughly $750 million. According to USA Today, the network is currently “undergoing a significant reorganization” and “streamlining some of its operations.”
Conservative/Libertarian

Groups

The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action is the political lobbying arm of the NRA, a 501(c)(4) organization. The Institute was formed in 1975 to address a “critical need for political defense of the Second Amendment,” according to its website. The group advocates against gun-control measures and the candidates who support them. The NRA is widely considered to be one of the most influential and powerful issue advocacy organizations in the United States, and the Institute for Legislative Action is a crucial component of that advocacy.
$33.71 million
Conservative

According to its website, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit organization that represents the interests of more than 3 million businesses. Since 1998, the trade association has spent $1.2 billion on lobbying -- more than than any other group in the U.S., according to The Center for Responsive Politics. The group leans conservative and has made $5.8 million in political contributions since 1990.
$29.10 million
Conservative

Once opposed to Donald Trump’s candidacy, members of the Ricketts family, which owns the 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs, have in recent months provided financial support to his campaign through 45Committee, a politically active nonprofit, and Future 45, an affiliated super PAC. According to Politico, Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade, and his wife, Marlene have given $1 million to the groups. Their son, Todd, ran 45Committee and has helped raise $30 million for both groups, in part by encouraging Republican donors who don’t want to have their names publicly associated with Trump to give to 45Committee, which, as a social welfare organization, does not have to reveal its donors. 45 Committee has also provided about half the money for Future 45, the super PAC.
$21.33 million
Conservative

Americans for Prosperity is a free-market, free-trade, limited government advocacy group according to the non-partisan Factcheck.org. Much of this is due to its founder, David Koch. Koch, along with his brother, Charles, runs Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in the United States. According to Politico, the Koch brothers’ network planned to spend $889 million during the 2016 election cycle, double the amount the Republican National Committee spent in the 2012 presidential election cycle. The Kochs distribute money directly to candidates and through a network of super PACs and 501(c)(4)s. The Kochs' political philosophy tends to lean toward the libertarian, as do the causes and candidates they support.
$13.98 million
Conservative

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 $60 million -- from organizations and individuals connected to Charles and David Koch, according to The Center for Responsive Politics. In 2013, California regulators said the organization acted as an intermediary for groups that were later fined for not properly reporting political contributions. After that, the Fund was "exiled from the Koch [network]." Since then, the group has been supported by a number of other high-profile 501(c)(4) conservative organizations including Crossroads GPS and the Judicial Crisis Network.
$12.79 million
Conservative

Majority Forward is a political nonprofit associated with the super PAC Senate Majority PAC, a group dedicated to electing Democrats to the Senate. On its website, Majority Forward says that its primary mission is “to encourage full participation by voters in our election process” and that it works “to elect candidates whose policies represent the goals of the majority of Americans who want to move our country forward.”
$10.12 million
Liberal

According to its website, the League “advocates for sound environmental laws and policies, holds elected officials accountable for their votes and actions, and elects pro-environment candidates who will champion our priority issues.” The League is perhaps best known for its “national environmental scorecard,” which ranks members of Congress based on their votes on environmental issues. It also maintains a “dirty dozen” list of members of Congress it is targeting, based on both their environmental record and seat vulnerability.
$7.26 million
Liberal

American Action Network describes itself as an “action tank” looking to promote and implement center-right policies. AAN was founded by former Minnesota Republican Senator Norm Coleman and Fred Malek, finance chairman of the Republican Governors Association Executive Roundtable. The network has two sister organizations: the American Action Forum, which produces policy research, and the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC, which focuses on “protecting and strengthening the Republican Majority” in the U.S. House of Representatives. Several groups, including Democracy 21, the Campaign Legal Center and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington have filed complaints against AAN with the IRS and FEC, arguing that the group violated its 501(c)(4) status by engaging primarily in political activities, rather than social welfare.
$5.55 million
Conservative

The Environmental Defense Action Fund is the political arm of the Environmental Defense Fund, a nonprofit that advocates for environmental preservation. The organization lobbies for strong environmental measures including preservation of natural lands and regulation of the energy sector to prevent environmental degradation.
$4.34 million
Liberal

Club For Growth is a conservative group that advocates for limited government and free-market policies. According to its website, it will take on any candidate who doesn’t support its views, regardless of party. Although not directly affiliated with Charles or David Koch, the Club has received money from Koch-linked groups including the Center to Protect Patient Rights. Several of the Club’s board members have ties to the Kochs. Additionally, the group has worked with other known Koch affiliates on certain issues.
$4.06 million
Conservative