Federal Politics

Published — September 14, 2012 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Transparency test: Grading the super PACs


Throughout the course of the 2012 election, the Consider the Source team will continue to write profiles about the major super PACs and nonprofits that are spending heavily on political advertising.

In addition to providing basic information about the origin of the organizations and their spending history, today we add a transparency grade to each group, indicating how much they reveal about their donors.

Super PACs, which are required to report donors to the Federal Election Commission, generally receive good grades. But they may be marked down if major donations come from shell corporations or nonprofits.

Nonprofit outside spending organizations, which are not required to report their donors, receive a “no disclosure” designation.

The grades are tabulated by the Consider the Source staff and are subjective. Any organization that would like to dispute its grade or provide a list of donors to the Center, please contact project director John Dunbar via email at jdunbar@publicintegrity.org.

Transparency Test

FD (Full Disclosure): All donations of $200 or more are reported.

SD (Significant Disclosure): All donations of $200 or more are reported, but some large contributions come from nonprofits or mystery corporations.

PD (Partial Disclosure): A majority of donors of $200 or more are reported but a substantial percentage of funds come from nonprofits or mystery corporations.

ND (No Disclosure): The government generally does not require these organizations to publicly report their donors.

Transparency Grade: FD

Transparency Grade: SD

Transparency Grade: PD

Transparency Grade: ND

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