Kelly's Vote for Dark Money and Voter Suppression

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    The bill “chills political speech, and infuses more money into politics by spending hard-earned taxpayer dollars on political campaigns. … requiring taxpayers to fund the campaigns of politicians they do not support.”

-- From Kelly’s statement opposing H.R. 1, March 8, 2019.


     Under the proposed law, the federal government would provide a voluntary 6-1 match of money raised from small donations for candidates for president and Congress. This means that for every dollar a candidate raises in small donations, the federal government would provide $6 to his or her campaign. The maximum small donation that could be matched would be capped at $200.


     Kelly is lying when he says taxpayer dollars would pay for this. In reality, it would be funded by adding a 2.75 percent fee on criminal and civil fines, fees, penalties or settlements with banks and corporations that commit corporate malfeasance (like Wells Fargo), according to a March 8, 2019, Vox story titled, House Democrats just passed a slate of significant reforms to get money out of politics.


     Kelly is lying when he says the act “chills political speech.” The truth is it gives an amplification – although still not a level playing field – to the average person who can’t afford huge political donations like the rich and corporations. A candidate’s federal funding will be based on what these small donors are able to give.


     The bill supports a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision. It requires super PACs and “dark money” political organizations to make donors public.


     Dark Money refers to political spending meant to influence the decision of a voter, where the donor is not disclosed and the source of the money is unknown. Depending upon the circumstances, dark money can refer to funds spent by a political nonprofit or a super PAC. 


     How much impact does big money have on politics? Super PACs spent more than $3 billion since 2010, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.Org). Dark money spending during 2018 was $147 million, with a total of $1 billion from 2008 to 2020, according to the center.


     Why would Kelly be against policing a campaign finance system designed for legal bribery? Why would he be against increasing the power of the small donor in light of the gigantic advantage the system gives to big money donors?


     Let’s follow the money.


     We know from the Center for Responsive Politics that during his political career (2009-2020) Kelly has raised over $9 million dollars in campaign donations (including $5.5 million from PACS).  This includes $1.8 million from the finance, insurance and real estate sector ($1.4 million from PACs), $1 million from the health sector ($860,000 from PACs), and $765,000 from the energy and national resources sector ($602,000 from PACS).


     Who would want to turn off that spigot, or even slow down the flow? Apparently not Kelly.


     “H.R. 1 would require states to enact several provisions that would make the election system more susceptible to fraud, including mandatory voter registration, same day registration, more expansive early voting protocols, and qualifying convicted felons to vote, among others.”

-- From Kelly’s statement opposing H.R. 1, March 8, 2019.


     Kelly is lying when he says that. In fact, Republicans use phony voter fraud claims to gin up their attempts to suppress the vote, particularly of minorities that tend to have more Democrats.


     A report by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law said, “extensive research reveals that fraud is very rare, voter impersonation is virtually nonexistent, and many instances of alleged fraud are, in fact, mistakes by voters or administrators. The same is true for mail ballots, which are secure and essential to holding a safe election amid the coronavirus pandemic.”


     What did Kelly vote against when he rejected this bill? National automatic voter registration, early voting, same-day and on-line voter registration, making Election Day a national holiday, ending partisan gerrymandering in federal elections, prohibiting voter roll purging, and beefing up election security.


     In other words, anything that makes it easier for people to vote, including those in his own district.


     Here are some other things the bill calls for:


     *Giving the Office of Government Ethics the power to do more oversight and enforcement and put in stricter lobbying registration requirements. These include more oversight into foreign agents by the Foreign Agents Registration Act.


     *Disclosing any political spending by government contractors and slowing the flow of foreign money into the elections by targeting shell companies.


     *Requiring Facebook and Twitter to disclose the source of money for political ads on their platforms and share how much money was spent. Newspapers and television and radio stations are already required to do this.


     *Restructuring the Federal Election Commission to have five commissioners instead of six, in order to break political gridlock at the organization.


     *Prohibiting any coordination between candidates and super PACs.


     *Requiring the president and vice president to disclose 10 years of his or her tax returns. Candidates for president and vice president must also do the same.


     *Stopping members of Congress from using taxpayer money to settle sexual harassment or discrimination cases.


     *Creating a new ethical code for the US Supreme Court, ensuring all branches of government are impacted by the new law.


     “Democrats have signaled to America that their primary goal is to give Washington more power and to stack the election process in their favor.”

-- From Kelly’s statement opposing H.R. 1, March 8, 2019.


     Stack the election process in their favor?


     Let’s see, no more gerrymandering, no voter suppression and no dark money; a stronger ethics policing mechanism; efforts to get more people to vote; and more election security against foreign threats like Russia.


     When you look at their history it’s easy to see why Kelly and the Republicans consider things like that as stacking the system against them.


     In fact, that’s the kind of world any democratic country would want.


     Ask yourself why Mike Kelly doesn’t.




     House Democrats just passed a slate of significant reforms to get money out of politics. Vox, March 8, 2019.


     Kelly: The Tale of Two Congresses on display with passage of H.R. 1. March 8, 2019.


     Mike Kelly’s campaign finance summary. Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.Org).

     The Myth of Voter Fraud. The Brennan Center for Justice, New York University School of Law.


     Super PAC spending. Center for Responsive Politics (

     Dark Money Basics. Center for Responsive Politics (