The 2010 election was the first campaign following the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial decision that allowed corporations to spend unlimited money on behalf of political candidates. According to a new study by a watchdog group, of the contests that changed hands on Tuesday, no one benefited more from this "dark money" than Illinois' Senator-elect Mark Kirk.
The watchdog group Public Citizen released a report (PDF) showing that of the 74 seats that switched parties on Election Day, Kirk received far more from these shadow outside groups than any other candidate. In the race for Senate, Kirk received over $8.7 million from groups accepting unlimited contributions or not disclosing the source of their money, compared to about $800,000 for Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulias.
The biggest chunk of cash was routed through
Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, a group set up by Karl Rove. According to Public Citizen, Crossroads GPS dumped $5.6 million into ads hitting Giannoulias. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce poured another $1.7 million into Illinois.
The outpouring of support from these groups, coupled with Kirk's vote against the DISCLOSE Act, suggests the state's new junior Senator might be hesitant to support meaningful campaign finance reform in the upper chamber.