Big Election Spenders Revealed

This may be our first comprehensive look at the muscle being put forth by well-funded interest groups after the Supreme Court loosened some campaign fundraising and spending rules.

Public Citizen tracked 120 groups (as of Oct.12) to see how much they've been raising and spending to influence elections this year and here are the new results showing the biggest spenders:

  • $18.4 million: American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS
  • $15.5 million: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • $9.4 million: The AFL-CIO
  • $7.7 million: American Future Fund
  • $6.1 million: 60 Plus

Under the law, many of the 120 groups Public Citizen tracked are not required to, and do not, disclose information about their funders. "Of the highest-spending groups, only American Crossroads discloses any information about its funders," says Public Citizen, "its sister organization, Crossroads GPS, is a 501(c)(4) and so does not disclose the identities of its donors."

Another analysis, this one by the Sunlight Foundation, has found that for the first time, outside groups are spending more than political parties: 59 percent of independent expenditures" versus just 18 percent in 2006. That's almost triple.

The latest filings with the Federal Election Commission show that Republicans bested Democrats in direct contributions to candidates in top races in the past three months, but Democrats still have a bit more money left in the bank to spend.

In Tight Races, Democrats Have Financial Edge, Report Says
Tea Party Candidates Boosted by Small Donors
Critical Contests: Interactive Map with CBS News' Race Ratings

Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News Investigative Correspondent based in Washington. You can read more of her posts in Hotsheet here.

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    Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington.

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