Exclusive: Three-quarters of the secret money in recent elections came from 15 groups

WASHINGTON – Just 15 groups account for three-quarters of the anonymous cash flowing into federal elections since the Supreme Court paved the way for corporate and union money in candidate races eight years ago, according to a new report provided first to USA TODAY.

The analysis by Issue One, a group that supports greater campaign-finance regulation, finds many of these groups remain big players in the 2018 midterm elections, although the sources of their money remain largely hidden from public view.

“If you have the guts to play in politics or attack a candidate running for office, you should have the courage to put your name on it,” Issue One CEO Nick Penniman said in a statement about the report, “Dark Money Illuminated.”

Outside money in elections has exploded since the high court’s blockbuster Citizens United ruling in 2010, allowing corporations and unions to spend in candidate elections. Groups that don’t disclose their donors spent more than $800 million between Jan. 1, 2010 and December 2016, with $600 million coming from 15 organizations, Issue One’s analysis found.

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