Commentary: Who's paying for all those election ads?

Why is an Iowa-based group spending big bucks on the Kansas attorney general race? Why did an Ohio group run attack ads during the GOP primary for the 4th Congressional District? What are their agendas? Where does their money come from? Is any of it from Kansas donors?

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to impossible to get answers to these and other questions, because many outside groups don’t have to disclose their funding sources.

That’s unfair to voters and an abuse of the campaign system. And it’s why Congress needs to require greater disclosure of campaign donations and spending.

Ironically, these secretive groups began springing up after Congress’ last major campaign-finance reform. Rather than remove big money from politics, as was its intention, the McCain-Feingold law drove money underground.

Donors could avoid campaign donation limits to political parties by financing independent groups that spent money directly on campaigns. And if the groups register with the Internal Revenue Service as 501(c)(4) organizations, they don’t have to disclose the names of their donors.

The U.S. Supreme Court also helped open the floodgates when it ruled in January that corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money campaigning for or against political candidates.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.kansas.com.