President Joe Biden’s successful 2020 White House bid benefited from an extensive record-breaking amount of “dark money,” according to a new report.
Bloomberg News noted earlier this week that outside political groups—not officially associated with Biden’s campaign, but working to support his chances at victory—spent and raised more than $145 million from anonymous donors.
“That amount of dark money dwarfs the $28.4 million spent on behalf of his rival, former President Donald Trump,” Bloomberg reported. “And it tops the previous record of $113 million in anonymous donations backing Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.”
The money, while significant, was only a fraction of the $1.5 billion spent on Biden’s behalf this last cycle. The president, himself, raised more than $1 billion through his own campaign committee, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
A further $578 million was raised by Super PACs and other political groups. This figure includes the $145 million in “dark money” that was raised by political non-profits that are not required by law to disclose their donors.
Generally, such non-profits either raise the money and spend it themselves or transfer it to larger Super PACs working on a candidate’s behalf. Although Super PACs are not allowed to coordinate directly with the campaigns of specific candidates, there is no limit to how much they can raise on that candidate’s behalf, provided they disclose every donor. Political non-profits, however, often act as a shield since they too can raise unlimited amounts of money without having to disclose their donors.
During the 2020 election cycle, such practices heavily benefited Democrats. The Center for Responsive Politics notes that more than $326 million in “dark money” was spent to aid Democrats this last cycle. Meanwhile, only $148 million was used to support Republican groups.
Democrats, including Biden, accepted the help from “dark money” groups, even as they argued in favor of tighter regulations on campaign spending. Biden, in particular, unveiled a proposal last year that specifically called for an “end [to] dark money groups.”
While Biden was championing that idea, though, “dark money” groups were mobilizing to see him elected president. As Breitbart News reported in October 2020, a super PAC backed by Silicon Valley donors and boosted by “dark money” spent substantially to run attack ads against Trump in the final weeks of the White House contest.