Organization Trends

The Left’s Narrative on “Dark Money” Collapses

New York Times reports on Democratic “dark money” using CRC research.


In a tremendous blow to the narrative that conservative “dark money” dominates politics, reporters Ken Vogel and Shane Goldmacher of the New York Times explored the world of “dark money” spending on both the Left and Right, and they concluded that Democrats, not Republicans, used more “dark money” in 2020. The Capital Research Center is proud to have helped with the research on this groundbreaking piece.

ReadDemocrats Decried Dark Money. Then They Won with It in 2020.” [paywall].

“For much of the last decade, Democrats complained—with a mix of indignation, frustration and envy—that Republicans and their allies were spending hundreds of millions of difficult-to-trace dollars to influence politics,” Vogel and Goldmacher wrote. “Then came the 2020 election.”

Using a somewhat loosely defined, but abundantly even-handed methodology, the reporting duo compiled a list of 15 of the largest “dark money” groups from each side of the political spectrum and compared their total spending during the 2020 election. To identify left-leaning “dark money” organizations for the list Vogel turned to the Capital Research Center and its unmatched reporting of left-wing “dark money” influence, acknowledging CRC’s assistance in a tweet.

Featuring several organizations that CRC has reported on extensively like the Sixteen Thirty Fund, America Votes, and the Voter Registration Project, the list showed that Democrat-aligned groups spent $1.5 billion dollars in 2020, while Republican-aligned groups spent just over $904 million.

The candor of Vogel and Goldmacher was well-received by many. For those on the Right the article was vindicating: a mainstream acknowledgement of a truth hidden from the public for years. For moderates on the Left the article was a wake-up call, a friendly reminder that their poltical heroes might not be as principled as they seem.

There were a few, however. that did not view the article quite as favorably.

Left-Wing Radicals Don’t Want to Talk About “Dark Money”

Marc Elias, the former Perkins Coie lawyer who helped fund the discredited “Russiagate” dossier was enraged, apparently at Vogel specifically, for the reporting (perhaps because Vogel once called out Elias for lying about the dossier).

In a day-long Twitter outburst Elias fired off a series of tweets, many he later deleted, that smeared the article for the high crime of reporting the inconvenient truth. The dramatic and self-inflicted coup de grâce in Elias’ brief feud came when Elias called for courts to “revisit” New York Times v. Sullivan, a landmark case for freedom of the press, since the media was no longer “pro-democracy.”

The response was predictably negative, and one of Vogel’s colleagues at the Times put it best: “In a story as old as America, a powerful man doesn’t get the press coverage he wants, and then wonders whether the press has too much freedom.”

Changing the Narrative

Despite years of neglect by the mainstream media, the public is waking up to the realities of the Left’s gargantuan “dark money” operations, and the Capital Research Center is pleased to have played a role in this awakening.

Vogel and Goldmacher’s article will likely be viewed as a landmark moment in the evolving national discourse about money in politics.

Parker Thayer

Parker Thayer is a investigative researcher at Capital Research Center. A native of Michigan, he recently graduated from Hillsdale College.
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