By Elad Gross, Candidate for Missouri Attorney General
Dark money is a serious threat to our democracy.
Dark money consists of millions of dollars of anonymous campaign contributions designed to buy our government, remove transparency, and eliminate accountability. It’s one of the major reasons why our government serves big-money interests instead of us.
In 2016, Missouri became the hotbed of dark money in America. Just one dark money organization gave $13 million to a candidate for Missouri governor, Eric Greitens. After dark money proved so effective in his election, the governor created his own dark money organization called A New Missouri, Inc. This organization funneled millions of anonymous dollars into attacking state legislators calling for ethics reform and pushing the highly unpopular anti-union Right-to-Work law designed to decrease union membership and increase corporate power.
Members of the governor’s own party investigated the dark money corruption he brought to our state. Eventually, a judge ordered the dark money organization to reveal its donors to a state House of Representatives investigative committee. Just a few hours later, the governor resigned. All of the investigations ended, but a final report found that the dark money organization was a “fake charity” and a “criminal enterprise from its inception” designed to hide donors and get around Missouri’s campaign finance laws.
Dark money eliminates transparency to eliminate accountability. With dark money, we don’t know who these donors are, where they’re from, or what they want. They are purposefully hijacking our democracy.
Instead of doing anything about it, our most recent Attorneys General have helped dark money organizations cover their tracks. Our last Attorney General took a lot of support from dark money operatives, and our current one uses the same dark money operation to fund his next campaign.
Missouri should not be for sale. We can end dark money in our state and impact this corruption on a national level. Our Attorney General has the tools to fight dark money right now. We need one who will do the job.
Here’s how we’re going to do it:
- Initiate civil and criminal investigations under RSMo. 407.040 and 407.020 against dark money organizations purposefully evading Missouri’s campaign finance laws.
- Require that dark money organizations follow Missouri’s nonprofit registration requirements under RSMo. 407.472.
- Bring dark money organizations to court to require transparency and prevent them from illegally buying our government under RSMo. 407.090 and 407.100.
- Issue emergency orders as needed to stop illegal dark money activity under RSMo. 407.095.
- Enforce Missouri’s constitutional prohibition of dark money in Article VIII.23.3(7) and Article VIII.23.3(14).
- Partner with local prosecutors, the Missouri Ethics Commission, the FBI, and the IRS to prevent foreign powers from buying our elections.
- Prosecute public corruption in conjunction with the State Auditor.
- Advocate in the legislature to strengthen our Sunshine Law and pass the End Dark Money Act.
- Protect the integrity of our elections by ending partisan gerrymandering, prohibiting illegal electoral interference, and sending a clear message that Missouri is no longer for sale.
- As a campaign, we are not taking dark money, only transparent donations from people like you.
Our plan would impact dark money spending beyond Missouri too. Dark money is a national problem, with hundreds of millions of hidden dollars injected into our elections every cycle, including into local races that used to be less costly. Fake charities that solicit Missourians’ money in any way should be subject to investigation and prosecution by our Attorney General. By setting a clear example, working with Attorneys General throughout the country, and pursuing the dark money organizations soliciting donations in our state no matter where they are based, Missouri can be a leader in the fight to end dark money.
Our government is bought. It’s time to bring the secret payoffs and the dark-money handouts to light and clean up our state. Our elected officials should be fixing health care, focusing on our education crisis, repairing our broken justice system, and stopping scammers. Our government should be serving us, not powerful people who don’t even live in Missouri.
We need an Attorney General who will take down the “For Sale” sign sitting in front of our capitol. We need to take back Missouri.
You can join our effort to clean up our government and fix our democracy at EladGross.org.
To see more of our plans, visit www.EladGross.org/solutions.