A group of “pop-up” super PACs successfully concealed nearly $24 million in spending between last month’s Nevada caucuses and the March 17 primaries, according to a new analysis from the Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets.org.
Super PACs are required by law to disclose their donors, but by carefully timing their launch and quickly spending their war chest just before an election, they can skirt disclosing donors until after election day, leading campaign-finance watchers to tag them as “pop-up” operations.
The Center for Responsive Politics found ‘at least’ 11 different groups deploying this method in presidential, Senate, and House races leading into the March 17 primaries.
“The current reporting rules were crafted more than four decades ago, when committee treasurers typed their reports with typewriters and mailed their disclosures to the [Federal Election Commission],” wrote Karl Evers-Hillstrom at the Center for Responsive Politics. “Now, campaigns and outside groups maintain electronic databases of their contributions and spending, making it easy to file reports quickly. But the rules have not been updated to keep up with technological changes.”
Persist PAC, a super PAC supporting Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s now-defunct presidential campaign, accounted for $14.8 million of the nearly $24 million tracked by the Center for Responsive Politics. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s since-shuttered presidential campaign benefited from the practice as well, with Kitchen Table Conversation spending $2.7 million and using similar methods, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Some groups that comply with disclosure requirements by filing reports on a monthly basis rather than in pre-primary reports will not need to reveal their February donors until Friday.