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Biden campaign received $145M ‘dark money’ donations: report

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President Joe Biden‘s 2020 presidential campaign was aided by $145 million in “dark money” donations to outside groups backing him, according to a Saturday report from Bloomberg News. All this, despite comments from Biden, as well as Democrats criticizing such aspects of campaign finance.

According to the Bloomberg report, anonymous donors gave about $145 million to outside groups advocating for Biden’s campaign, which is miles ahead of the $28.4 million spent on behalf of then-President Donald Trump.

The previous record-holder was 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who had $113 million in dark money donations spent promoting his failed candidacy.

Priorities USA Action Fund for example, one of the highest-profile Democratic super PACs backing Biden, used $26 million in funds originally donated to its nonprofit arm, called Priorities USA, to support the then-candidate, according to Bloomberg. The money’s donors do not need to be disclosed.

During his 2020 campaign, Biden raised a record-breaking $1.5 billion, however, he could only accept donations of at most $2,800 from individual donors under FEC rules. Of that staggering number, $318.6 million of which came from donors who gave less than $200 each, whereas the other money originated from donors who gave over $825,000, with that money split between Biden’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, according to Fox News.

“We weren’t going to unilaterally disarm against Trump and the right-wing forces that enabled him,” Guy Cecil, the chairman of Priorities USA, told Bloomberg.

Those critical of dark money, which hides the source of the funds, have argued that voters ought to know who’s bankrolling political campaigns and advertisements. The Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan group, has called it a “serious threat to our democracy,” and Issue One, another nonpartisan group that aims to reduce the influence of money in politics, has called it “the most toxic force in politics,” per Fox News.

While Democrats have introduced legislation in the past to bring down the hammer on anonymous donations, they decided to welcome dark money donations themselves as they fought till the bitter end to oust Trump out of the Oval Office.

“We weren’t going to unilaterally disarm against Trump and the right-wing forces that enabled him,” Guy Cecil, the chairman of Priorities USA, told Bloomberg.

This Bloomberg report comes as one of the first bills the new Senate will vote on is the “For the People Act,” introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and is the Senate equivalent of the House act of the same name. The act seeks to require that all political organizations disclose their donors, on top of wanting to implement automatic voter registration and expand same-day voter registration across the country.

“The 2020 election underscored the need for comprehensive, structural democracy reform,” Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), who led the charge with the legislation’s House version, said in a statement on his website. “Americans across the country were forced to overcome rampant voter suppression, gerrymandering and a torrent of special-interest dark money just to exercise their vote and their voice in our democracy.”

Biden, as part of his plan to reform government, called for prohibiting certain kinds of nonprofits from spending money in elections and mandating that any organization that spends more than $10,000 on federal elections to register with the Federal Election Committee (FEC) and publicly name its donors, per Fox News. Priorities USA, under such rules, would have been forced to disclose its donors.

Democrats got around $326 million in dark money donations during this past election cycle, the Center for Responsive Politics says, which is more than two-times bigger than the $148 million collected by the GOP, per Fox News. However, the GOP has historically outplayed Democrats when it comes to dark money.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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GOP bill proposes extra measures to ensure noncitizens are unable to vote in federal elections

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GOP members of both the U.S. House and Senate introduced a bill to add safeguards to ensure that non U.S. citizens who are already prohibited from voting in federal elections, do not do so. The bill seeks to amend the National Voter Registration Act to require documentary proof of United States citizenship to register to vote.

The Center Square reports that It would require states to obtain proof of citizenship – in person – when registering an individual to vote. Applicants would have to provide proof of citizenship when they register to vote in person, when applying for a motor vehicle license, and when applying to vote by mail. The bill lists accepted citizenship documentation and requirements for voter registration agencies.

U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, led a coalition of 49 Republicans to introduce the Safeguard American Voter Eligibility (SAVE) Act in the U.S. House. U.S. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, with several cosponsors, introduced the same bill in the Senate.

Citing the border crisis and the greatest number of foreign nationals illegally entering the country in U.S. history, the measure’s supporters expressed alarm that instead of being deported, many are being registered to vote.

“There is currently an unprecedented and a clear and present danger to the integrity of our election system,” House Speaker Mike Johnson said. “And that is the threat of non-citizens and illegal aliens voting in our elections. In the last five and a half months or so, I’ve been to over 101 cities doing events all around the country in more than half the states. The first or second question that I’m asked in every public forum is about election security. Americans are deeply concerned about this. And it doesn’t matter where you live or whether you’re in a blue state or a red state, everyone’s concerned.”

Johnson blamed President Joe Biden and his administration’s policies for for what he described as widespread concern about election integrity.

“… we now have so many non-citizens in the country that if only one out of 100 of those voted, they would cast hundreds of thousands of votes,” the speaker added. “And since our elections are so razor thin in these days that we’re in, just a few precincts in a few states decide the makeup of Congress and who is elected to the White House. This is a dangerously high number, and it’s a great concern to millions and millions of Americans. It could obviously change the outcome of our elections, and this is not an empty threat or concern.”

It is already a federal crime for non-citizens to vote in a federal election. Despite this, Johnson said, “no current mechanism to ensure only those registering or voting are actually citizens. … If a nefarious actor wants to intervene in our elections, all they have to do is check a box on a form and sign their name. That’s it. That’s all that’s required. And there’s a very small chance that illegal would get caught [because] states do not have the election infrastructure in place to confirm what they’ve said.”

Johnson said noncitizens “can simply go to their local welfare office or the DMV and register to vote there,” adding that “states are currently prohibited from asking someone to prove that they’re a citizen when they use the federal voter registration form.”

He also gave examples of “a growing number of localities” that are “blurring the lines for non-citizens by allowing them to vote in municipal local elections.

“You might not know this, but non-citizens are voting,” he warned Americans. “Democrats have expressed a desire to turn on citizens and voters. That’s what this open border has been all about.”

Roy said the proposed SAVE Act “would thwart Democrat efforts to cement one-party rule by upholding and strengthening current law that permits only U.S. citizens to vote in Federal elections.”

Lee said the bill should “pass right away” and unanimously in both houses of Congress. “The only reason to oppose this … would be if you want noncitizens to vote.”

It also would create a new program requiring the Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration to share information with state registration systems. States would be required to identify noncitizens attempting to register to vote by accessing data in DHS’ Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program and the SSA’s Social Security Number Verification Service. The information would be compared with data from state agencies that supply state identification cards or driver’s licenses.

The bill also would require states to remove non-citizens from existing voter rolls and increases federal penalties for those who register non-citizens to vote in federal elections.

 

 

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