Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law
published a landmark report documenting how secret donations have
corroded democracy at the state level, where it is "arguably most
"Mining companies secretly targeting a legislator who
opposed permits. Food companies battling a ballot measure to add
labeling requirements. Payday lenders supporting an attorney general who
promised to shield them from regulation," writes Brennan Center
president Michael Waldman, listing the ways that outside money has
corrupted local politics.
According to the report, secret
spending on the local level rose from 24 percent in 2006 to 71 percent
in 2014. This is largely due to a new phenomenon the authors have dubbed
"Gray Money," which is when "organizations, which are legally required
to disclose their donors, route money through multiple layers of PACs to
obscure its origin."
The first of its kind survey analyzed
spender and contributor reports in six geographically and
demographically diverse states, where sufficient data was available:
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, and Massachusetts. The
sample represents approximately 20 percent of the nation's population.