Stealthy Super PACs Influence Primaries Without Disclosing Donors

It didn’t take the Spirit of America PAC long to make a big impact. Shortly after filing its paperwork to register with the FEC in mid-May, the super PAC was already up and spending more than $160,000 supporting Republican Rep. Paul Cook with a series of media buys during his tightly contested primary campaign in California’s 8th Congressional District. The rapid succession of events helped Cook advance to the general election, but a big question remained about the super PAC: Who, exactly, was behind Spirit’s six-figure ad buys? The source of the funds that fueled Spirit’s expenditures was unknown to voters as they went to the polls, and in fact remains a mystery. Thanks to a particular quirk in FEC reporting rules, the group was able to run ads in the run-up to the California primary without disclosing its donors. And it’s not alone: Spirit and eight other super PACs that collectively spent nearly $1.3 million in recent primaries — including conservative legal hero James Bopp’s nascent USA Super PAC — disclosed just $37,318 in 2012 cycle contributions prior to the time votes were cast, according to a new Center for Responsive Politics analysis. » Read More Track Super PACs on