- Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have railed against dark money in politics.
- A New York Times analysis found Democrats outdid the GOP with the hard-to-trace funds in 2020.
- Biden backers told Insider in 2020 they supported using whatever it took to beat Trump.
Though Democrats have railed against “dark money” in politics, they actually upstaged Republicans with such funds in the 2020 election, a New York Times analysis found.
Democrats matched and by some measures surpassed Republicans in raising and spending dark money, according to tax filings and other data reviewed by The Times.
Dark money refers to money of unknown origin and is difficult to trace. It often comes from politically oriented nonprofits that do not need to disclose their donors.
President Joe Biden and other Democratic lawmakers have called for changes in campaign finance laws to take such secretive donations out of politics. But in 2020, Democrats embraced the practice, with pro-Biden super PACs accumulating eight times the amount of dark money that super PACs for Hillary Clinton raised in 2016, an analysis by Insider’s Dave Levinthal found.
The Times found a sample of 15 major nonprofits generally linked to Democrats spent over $1.5 billion in 2020. That’s compared to about $900 million spent by a sample of 15 major GOP-linked nonprofits.
One group linked to the left, Sixteen Thirty Fund, received donations of undisclosed origin as large as $50 million, The Times reported. The group also outspent the Democratic National Convention in 2020, with $410 million.
The Times noted their analysis is likely not complete, as dark money is inherently hard to track. But Democratic and GOP strategists told the outlet the analysis lined up with their knowledge of dark money on the left and right in 2020.
Some prominent Biden backers told Insider’s Levinthal in 2020 they were willing to use whatever means necessary to defeat Trump.
“This democracy is sacred and too amazing to sacrifice its existence,” Moe Vela, a former senior adviser to Biden during the Obama administration who now runs a consulting firm, said. “This is not the time to be a purist.”