The 2020 election saw more than $1 billion in “dark money” spending at the federal level, a massive sum driven by an explosion of secret donations boosting Democrats in a historically expensive cycle.
That’s according to an estimate from OpenSecrets. The billion-dollar sum includes a whopping $660 million in donations from opaque political nonprofits and shell companies to outside groups. In 2020, dark money groups preferred to bankroll closely-tied super PACs rather than spend the money themselves — politically active nonprofits that do not disclose their donors reported roughly $88 million in direct election spending to the Federal Election Commission. The remainder of the total is made up of spending on “issue ads” targeting candidates online and on the airwaves.