Super PACs are supposed to disclose the identities of their donors.
Except when they don't, exactly.
Nearly all of the money raised by the Citizens for a Working America PAC, a super PAC that's spent more than $2 million on ads boosting businessman David Perdue in Georgia's contentious Republican U.S. Senate primary, has come from two "social welfare" nonprofits connected to an Ohio lobbyist, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of campaign finance records.
Such nonprofits may keep their own donors secret. And although nonprofit groups rarely donate to super PACs, the practice worries some campaign finance reformers who fear these transfers leave voters uninformed about who is actually funding political campaigns in their states.
"This PAC's fundraising operation illustrates a big hole in disclosure when it comes to super PACs," said Paul S. Ryan, an attorney at the Campaign Legal Center. "The ability of super PACs to receive money from corporate entities that do not, in turn, disclose their own donors renders federal disclosure laws meaningless."
In Georgia, the Citizens for a Working America PAC has touted Perdue as a "conservative outsider" and attacked his GOP opponent, Rep. Jack Kingston, as "career politician."
Through July 2, the super PAC has raised $2.1 million, according to documents filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission.
The group's top donor — at $1.7 million — is the Ohio-based Jobs and Progress Fund, a social welfare nonprofit that is focused on "education and legislative participation on public policy matters" dealing with the economy and fiscal responsibility, according to its most recent tax return.
That amount accounts for more than 80 percent of the Citizens for a Working America PAC's receipts this election cycle.
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Copyright 2014 The Center for Public Integrity. This story was published by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.