Congressional candidate Dan McCready (D.) publicly denounced dark money in the 2018 election cycle while a dark money group was spending nearly $1 million to defeat McCready’s opponent in a North Carolina House race at the same time.
McCready tweeted "Dark money has no place in our politics" last September while linking to a Washington Post story about a Supreme Court decision in which the high court declined to take up a campaign finance case that could have required more disclosure by nonprofits.
However, outside spending groups "shelled out $4.6 million to help McCready, most of which went toward negative ads against Harris," according to the Center for Responsive Politics. "The DCCC spent just over $1 million on the race and liberal ‘dark money’ 501(c) Patriot Majority USA dropped $944,060 to help McCready."
While the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) cannot be considered a dark money group, Patriot Majority USA can because it does not have to disclose all of its donors given the way the group is legally organized.
"Patriot Majority USA—our 501(c)(4)—has been widely recognized for its well defined, multi-year, nonpartisan primary purpose, which is to work on economic solutions and encourage job creation throughout the United States," the group's website says.
Another analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics shows McCready's help from Patriot Majority USA in the 2018 cycle was second only to Jared Golden in a Maine house race. In that contest, Patriot Majority USA spent roughly $2.27 million against Golden's opponent Bruce Poliquin.
"Dan McCready served in uniform to defend our American values and is standing up to corruption in politics by refusing to take a dime of corporate PAC money," said McCready campaign spokesperson Amanda Sherman. "If he’s elected he’ll work to close loopholes for special interests and clean up corruption in Washington. That’s a far-cry from career politician Senator Bishop who’s spent decades in office serving special interests," Sherman added, referring to the Republican candidate Dan Bishop, a state senator.
Corporate PAC money and dark money are not the same thing.
Last September, the U.S. Supreme Court declined an emergency request to hear a case in which a federal judge in Washington threw out a long-standing Federal Election Commission ruling that allowed nonprofits to keep most donors secret.
"Nonprofit advocacy groups—which do not have to publicly disclose their donors, as political committees do—will now have to begin reporting the names of contributors who give more than $200 per year toward their independent political campaigns," the Washington Post reported, citing campaign finance lawyers.
"Moving forward, these groups will need to disclose to the public any donor that gave money for the purpose of influencing a federal election, regardless of whether they want to sponsor a particular race or specific communication," Matthew Sanderson, a Republican campaign finance attorney said to the Post. "Some groups will not need to adjust their approach to raising funds, but this will be a significant change for others."
The special election for the North Carolina district McCready is hoping to win is set for September 10 this year, after last year's results were thrown out due to election irregularities.