Following a story on campaign spending ahead of the midterm elections on October 30, CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes filed a similar report on Tuesday night’s CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley with the topic focusing specifically on the “dark money groups” that are not required to disclose their donors.
In setting up Cordes’s story, anchor Scott Pelley pivoted from a report on corruption and brutal crackdowns by the authoritarian Communist regime in China to saying that “[w]ell, government even in America is becoming murkier because of campaign finance laws that have become nearly a free-for-all.” When the report ended, he hailed it as “insight from Capitol Hill” from Cordes.
Cordes began her story by highlighting the pro-Mitch McConnell group Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, “which spent at least $7.5 million on ads against McConnell’s opponent” and how “[t]he group’s donors are a secret, thanks to a series of recent court decisions.”
Due to this, she stated that “certain nonprofit groups are no longer required to list” the names of donors. Following an soundbites from an supporter of disclosing campaign spending, Cordes circled back to painting McConnell, fretting that: “Many Republicans, including Leader McConnell, argue campaign spending is a form of free speech and should be regulated less, not more.”
In her conclusion, she lamented over the likely demise of a failed-Senate bill (pushed heavily by Democrat and outgoing-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid) that would have sought to reverse the Citizens United Supreme Court case ruling: "A Democratic bill that would require groups to disclose their donors did not pass in the Senate, and, Scott, now that Republicans are taking over that body, that bill is even less likely to go anywhere."
Back on October 30, I wrote about a report by Cordes that looked at the spending the North Carolina Senate race, which was the most expensive Senate race of the cycle with more than $100 million spent that was won by Republican and State House Speaker Thom Tillis over Democratic incumbent Senator Kay Hagan.
The complete transcript of the segment that aired on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley on November 11 is transcribed below.
CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley
November 11, 2014
6:39 p.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Campaign Financing]
SCOTT PELLEY: Well, government even in America is becoming murkier because of campaign finance laws that have become nearly a free-for-all. The midterm election this month was the most expensive in history, and $145 million came from anonymous donors, so no one knows who's buying what in Washington. Nancy Cordes explains.
NANCY CORDES: Republican leader Mitch McConnell's biggest outside backer in his bid for reelection was a little-known group called the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, which spent at least $7.5 million on ads against McConnell's opponent.
NARRATOR OF ANTI-ALISON LUNDERGAN-GRIMES AD: Grimes should be ashamed of herself.
CORDES: The group's donors are a secret, thanks to a series of recent court decisions, certain nonprofit groups are no longer required to list those names. When CBS asked, we were told: “KOC’s policy is to not provide the names of its donors to the general public.”
BILL ALLISON: You can't have fair elections when a lot of the money is hidden and nobody knows who's behind it.
CORDES: Bill Allison is with the Sunlight Foundation, which tracks so-called “dark money groups,” like the generically named Patriot Majority U.S.A., which spent $10.7 million this year against Republicans.
NARRATOR OF ANTI-TOM COTTON AD: Congressman Cotton, he got student loans for Harvard, but Cotton slammed the door on us.
CORDES: In Colorado's Senate race, more than a third of all spending came from anonymous donors.
NARRATOR OF ANTI-CORY GARDNER AD: Cory Gardner isn't telling the whole truth.
CORDES: [TO ALLISON] There are those who say, look, just because I want to support a cause doesn't mean I want my name out there. Isn't that a fair position to take?
ALLISON: In some ways, you know, supporting a cause I can understand, but these aren't causes that they're supporting. These are candidates, and when you're trying to elect candidates, I think the public should know who it is whose spending the money.
CORDES: Many Republicans, including Leader McConnell, argue campaign spending is a form of free speech and should be regulated less, not more. A Democratic bill that would require groups to disclose their donors did not pass in the Senate, and, Scott, now that Republicans are taking over that body, that bill is even less likely to go anywhere.
PELLEY: Nancy Cordes with insight from Capitol Hill. Nancy, thank you very much.