Three of the four super PACs aligned with House and Senate leaders brought in record high amounts from their “dark money” affiliates in the midterms.

by David Moore, Sludge

In his first interview after the collapse of his cryptocurrency empire FTX, founder Sam Bankman-Fried made the surprising admission that he had donated as much to Republicans as he had to Democrats—just that, as he put it, “All my Republican donations were dark.”

Bankman-Fried hasn’t volunteered more details, but it’s likely that he made his donations to one of the “dark money” nonprofits that are affiliated with super PACs aligned with Republican Party leaders in the U.S. House and Senate. The now-indicted mogul said he may have secretly been the second or third-biggest Republican donor in the midterms.

A pile of money partially obscured by darkness

Donors are increasingly steering their political giving along these secretive paths. The four super PACs aligned with congressional leaders received more in contributions than ever last election cycle from their largest dark money affiliates, according to a Sludge review of Federal Election Commission data.

The four super PACs that are endorsed by congressional leaders, though technically independent from them, have come to dominate spending on congressional elections in recent years, spending far more than national party committees like the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) or Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to help elect their party’s candidates. In the 2022 cycle, these super PACs became the four highest-spending outside groups on federal races, according to OpenSecrets.

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