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The Latest In Local Dark Money News

December 21, 2016 | dark money watch |
Benjamin Van Der Spek / EyeEm curtesy of Getty Benjamin Van Der Spek / EyeEm curtesy of Getty

When it comes to dark money — money spent trying to influence voters by groups that do not disclose their donors — the focus is often on the federal level. But a considerable amount of dark money is also going to state and local elections. Our weekly roundup looks at dark money spending at the local, state and federal levels.

Citizens Union, a nonpartisan good government group in New York, has filed a lawsuit challenging Governor Andrew Cuomo’s new ethics reform legislation, claiming that the regulations infringe on free speech rights, the Albany Times Union reports. The new law would require social welfare organizations that spend more than $15,000 on lobbying to disclose the names of donors who give more than $2,500. Citizens Unions objected to a clause requiring charities that give money to social welfare organizations to disclose their donors.

Beep Boop. That was the sound of the last tweet from a twitter bot that tweeted out expenditures from dark money groups in near real time, according to KJZZ. The AZ Dark Money Bot will no longer be tweeting because a new Arizona law changed disclosure requirements. Instead of reporting spending within a short period of making expenditures, groups will only have to report spending a few times a year, making it impossible for the bot to tweet out expenditures as they are made. The bot’s creator, Evan Wyloge of the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, said the bot could return if the law is changed.

There are nearly 1,000 political committees in Florida, and one of every seven is “operating in the shadows,” according to a Florida Times-Union analysis. State law requires those committees to report their income and expenses, but not exactly how they used that money. According to the analysis, the committees themselves often don’t divulge their political purpose, as required by law. The Times-Union also found that of the ten dark money groups that raised the most money between November 2014 and November 2016, “eight have financial connections to one another and the Republican Party.“

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