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Dark Money on the Edge of Town

mitch mcconnell donald trump
These “dark money” nonprofits are a sort of going-away present from the retiring Mitch McConnell, who’s given these fundraising vehicles his implicit blessing by not raising any objection to them. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Tara Palmeri
April 18, 2024

That noise you don’t hear is the sound of 501(c)(4) groups popping up all over Washington as Senate Republicans prepare to find themselves back in the majority next year. These “dark money” nonprofits, so called because they don’t require donor disclosures and can take a year to be listed, are a sort of going-away present from the retiring Mitch McConnell, who’s given these fundraising vehicles his implicit blessing by not raising any objection to them. “There’s been an explosion of (c)(4)s on the Republican side,” one lobbyist told me. Said another: “You can take unlimited sums of cash, you can have a sugar daddy or a sugar momma.”  

This quiet reversal, driven in part by the much-anticipated expiration of Trump’s tax reform bill in 2025, presages a flood of undisclosed money as every corporate interest in America looks to make friends with the Republicans who will be deciding their fate. These black-box instruments have long been employed by leadership, of course—McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund super PAC works hand in glove with One Nation, a 501(c)(4) run by Steven Law, to raise gobs of cash doled out at McConnell and Law’s discretion.