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Numerous non-profit groups with 501(c) tax status exploit loose regulations and lax oversight to spend millions of dollars influencing elections while keeping secret the identities of their donors. The New Stealth PACs, a publicly accessible database created by Public Citizen, shines a spotlight on the attempts of these groups to influence elections. [search database]

The Stealth Pacs site is no longer being updated. It should be used for historical research purposes.

* SPECIAL REPORTS *

New Stealth PACs Report

Posted 9/20/2004

Exploiting loose regulations and lax oversight, "New Stealth PACs" have poured millions of dollars into elections without revealing the identities of their donors or how they spend their money to influence elections, according to a new report by Public Citizen.

Public Citizen estimates that at least $91 million – and almost certainly many millions more – was spent by 26 non-profit groups registered under Section 501(c) of the tax code to influence at least 117 contests in 2000 and 2002.  In 2004, at least thirteen 501(c) groups have been active.

PhRMA Appears to Have Funneled Up to $41 Million to ‘Stealth PACs’ to Help Elect a Drug Industry-Friendly Congress

Posted 9/20/2004

With its eyes on passage of an industry-friendly Medicare prescription drug bill, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) appears to have quietly funneled as much as $41 million to four stealth PACs in 2002 to help elect a Congress sympathetic to the pharmaceutical industry’s interests, according to a new Public Citizen report.
Money that likely came from PhRMA, the drug industry’s trade association, enabled the United Seniors Association, 60 Plus Association, the Seniors Coalition and America 21 to broadcast ads and send direct mail in 39 U.S. Senate and House contests that year, supporting candidates friendly to PhRMA’s agenda and criticizing those who weren’t, the report reveals. PhRMA appears to be at it again in 2004.

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* MEDIA NOTEBOOK *

Freedom Works / Citizens for a Sound Economy

This group, headed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), made more than a million phone calls in battleground states, the LA Times reported.

Posted 11-15-2004 10:30 AM // link

American Taxpayers Alliance

Democrats in Vermont complained about an advertising campaign run by the American Taxpayers Alliance that criticized lieutenant governor candidate Cheryl Rivers, the Montpelier Times Argus reported. The paper termed the ads' characterization of Rivers’ remarks as "out-of-context and distorted."

The ad provided Rivers' home telephone number, then urged people to call her at home and tell her they would not vote for her.

"We have a campaign finance law to make sure that when some media goes on the air, we all know who is doing it and what they're paying for it," Rivers said.

Rivers won by more than 20 percentage points.

Posted 11-15-2004 10:24 AM // link

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

More details are emerging about the 2004 campaign efforts of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The group’s budget for the recent campaign “will approach $40 million,” the LA Times reported.

The Chamber "sent 20 million e-mails to members and others in eight targeted states that had closely contested Senate campaigns," the Washington Post reported. "The U.S. Chamber also sent out about 3 million pieces of direct mail, made 2.1 million phone calls and purchased millions of Web ads that encouraged employees to get out and vote for pro-business and often Republican candidates."

Posted 11-15-2004 10:21 AM // link

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