Outside spending yesterday capped off a last-minute attempt to influence voters today.

In the day before the election, more than $3.5 million was spent supporting GOP nominee Mitt Romney or opposing President Barack Obama, while $34,000 was spent in support of the president, according to Federal Election Commission reports. While Romney has enjoyed greater support with outside groups, the president’s campaign has raised more money, which has kept the two candidates about even in total ad spending.

Reports filed Monday show that in addition to the spending on the presidential race, groups also spent $800,000 to influence votes for U.S. Senate and House races. Americans for Responsible Leadership, a conservative nonprofit, spent more than any other outside group yesterday with $2.7 million, most of it supporting Romney. The Arizona-based group did not become active in the election until mid-October. Because it is a nonprofit, it is not required to disclose its donors; however, a court battle in California — the group has also been spending big on state-level ballot measures —culminated yesterday with the group disclosing its donors, the Los Angeles Times reported. The disclosure wasn’t particularly illuminating — the nonprofit group’s donors were other nonprofits, which also keep their donors secret.

Americans for Job Security, for example, passed money to the Center to Protect Patients’ Rights, another nonprofit, which gave money to Americans for Responsible Leadership, according to the Los Angeles Times. The original donors to Americans for Job Security are unknown. California’s Fair Practices Political Commission said the failure to disclose the transfers amounts to campaign money laundering, Talking Points Memo reported.

The Center to Protect Patients’ Rights, which has distributed large checks to various other conservative nonprofits, is run by Sean Noble, whom Politico described as a “Koch operative.” The Koch brothers, Charles and David, are wealthy businessmen whose nonprofits have spent tens of millions of dollars this election.

The Center to Protect Patients’ Rights and Americans for Job Security are part of a larger, non-disclosing network of politically active, conservative nonprofits, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

By Oct. 30, more than $840 million in outside money had poured into the 2012 elections, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity and CRP, with conservative outside spenders exceeding liberal spenders by roughly 69 percent to 28 percent.

In other outside spending news:

Who paid for that political ad? You might be surprised by the answer. Email us and we will try to find out. Describe the advertisement — was it mean or nice? Will it affect your vote? When and where did it run and what were the names of the candidates? And PLEASE tell us what the disclaimer at the end says, and we will check it out. 

About the author

Rachael Marcus is a reporter with the Center for Public Integrity, a non-profit, non-partisan independent investigative news outlet, which contributes campaign finance coverage to Marketplace. For more of their reporting on money and politics go to publicintegrity.org.

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