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Politics

Latest FEC Filing Data Doesn't Reveal All Donors

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Okay. Yesterday was reporting day for the presidential campaigns. That meant the candidates, as well as the so-called superPACs supporting them, turned over many lines of detail about how they raised their money last month. But as NPR's S.V. Date reports, do not expect much information about some of the biggest players in the race.

S.V. DATE, BYLINE: From the retired librarian in Kentucky who gave the Obama campaign $19, to the Arkansas investment banker who gave the superPAC backing Mitt Romney a half million, it's all there at the Federal Election Commission website. Yet in all those megabytes of data, there is not even a mention of some of the biggest spenders last month, so-called social welfare organizations that are hammering President Obama in the critical battleground states.

In May, while the Romney campaign and the Restore Our Future superPAC spent $7.5 million on TV ads, groups like Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity spent more than twice that, and voters may never learn the source of even a single dollar behind them. Jonathan Collegio is a spokesman for Crossroads GPS. He says liberal groups also run politically oriented ads and that the IRS rules governing non-profits abide by a decades-old Supreme Court ruling that protects the privacy of their donors.

JONATHAN COLLEGIO: Frankly, there are a lot of folks that aren't happy with the way that the country has been managed over the last couple of years, and we're voicing our concerns as any private association of individuals or groups is able to do.

DATE: Critics of the new landscape say the groups are abusing the intent of the tax laws. Kathy Kiely is with the Sunlight Foundation, which promotes full disclosure in politics.

KATHY KIELY: It gives average people who don't have big dollars at least some leverage as voters over the people who do.

DATE: At least for now, voters watching the campaign unfold in anonymously-funded TV ads will have to judge their merits without knowing who is behind them. S.V. Date, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.