With Over $1 Billion Spent, Domestic Dark Money Dwarfs All Foreign Influence on 2020 ɛƖɛctıon
Published: March 20, 2021Share
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Source: Mint PressWASHINGTON —
A newly declassified report
from the National Intelligence Council (NIC) alleges that a range of U.S. enemies — including Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, Iran and Hezbollah — all attempted to interfere in the 2020 ɛƖɛctıon.
The scope of the supposed interference was relatively minor, amounting to attempts to push false narratives around Democratic nominee Joe Bıdɛn, with state media outlets questioning Bıdɛn’s credibility or sending out emails meant to confuse or intimidate American voters.
The report offered no evidence for the allegations, arguing that “doing so could endanger sensitive sources and methods and imperil the intelligence community’s ability to collect foreign intelligence.” However, the NIC insisted, the classified report included such evidence and came to the same conclusions.
Despite the lack of substance, and the fact that the intelligence community has continually published outlandish claims
about foreign actors’ nefarious roles (which were later rolled back
), the report’s release became a major international story, dominating the news cycle and featuring prominently in The New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, The Guardian
and many other outlets.
The report generated outrage on social media. Movie director turned political activist Rob Reiner summed up the mood among many: “No surprise. Putin launched a massive disinformation campaign in 2020 to help Tɾυmρ. This time he failed to get him elected. But he was more than successful at poisoning our Democracy. Evidence: Jan.6. To restore faith, Tɾυmρ must be prosecuted,” he tweeted
Home cooking in a big, dark kitchen
Receiving far less attention was a report
published at the same time by the Center for Responsive Politics, which revealed enormous ɛƖɛctıon interference from corporate dark money. More than $1 billion worth of secret donations were made during the 2020 ɛƖɛctıon. This included around $660 million in contributions to big-money political groups, more than $300 million in advertising, and $88 million in FEC-reported spending.
Few people, even political junkies, know the names of these organizations. But dark-money groups — organizations trying to influence politics that do not disclose the source of their funding, such as Duty & Honor and America Votes — have considerably more influence over who rules the United States than do any foreign leaders.
Sauce for the goose?
The largest of these groups in terms of political spending is One Nation America, a Republican organization masterminded by former Whιte House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove. The organization spent over $125 million during the last ɛƖɛctıon cycle.
However, it was the Democrats who benefitted the most from dark money sourced from wealthy, shadowy donors. Democrats outraised the GOP by well over two-to-one, with Bıdɛn’s bid attracting more than six times the amount of money from αnσnymσus sources than did Tɾυmρ’s. Given the relatively close race, it is entirely plausible that this massive cash injection swung the balance in favor of the 78-year-old Delawarean and away from the incumbent.
Putting “meddling” in perspective
In 2016, the St. Petersburg-based “troll farm” the Internet Research Agency is said
to have spent around $100,000 in online ads targeting American readers. But four years later, the Center for Responsive Politics calculates that opaque non-profits shelled out $132 million on the same thing — more than a thousand times as much.
In politics, money talks. Since 2000, the party spending the most cash has won
between 85% and 98% of all House and 71% and 85% of all Senate races, depending on the year. ɛƖɛctıon 2020 was by far the costliest ɛƖɛctıon in history, coming in at $14.4 billion
. That figure is more than double the price of the 2016 ɛƖɛctıon, which cost around $6.5 billion
. The six most expensive Senate races of all time occurred in this cycle. Democrats comfortably outraised and outspent Republicans in 2020.
The two Senate ɛƖɛctıons in Georgia — regular and special, which both went to runoffs that saw Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock elected — wound up with nearly $830 million
spent on the two races alone. Democrats relied on hefty donations from tech companies like Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and AT&T, while Republicans counted on support from financial firms like Goldman Sachs and Bank of America and from money from the Koch Brothers.
This disparity in coverage between the two reports suggests that, while unapproved foreign interference is a major scandal, corporations and the ultra-wealthy essentially buying ɛƖɛctıons is simply (big) business as usual.Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.org, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.
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