Although super PACs have received most of the attention when it comes to outside spending during this election cycle, an investigation released Monday by the Center for Public Integrity and the Center for Responsive Politics shows that "social welfare" nonprofit groups spent $3 for every $2 super PACs spent in 2010.
The report noted that although super PACs must release their donors, the nonprofit groups as defined by section 501(c)(4) of the U.S. tax code rarely have to disclose where their money is coming from.
In the 2010 election cycle, the nonprofit "social welfare" groups spent about $95 million, compared to the $65 million spent by super PACs, according to the report. Much of the nonprofit spending came from the right, with conservative groups outspending liberal groups $78 million to $16 million.
As for the 2012 election, the groups noted that so far in this election cycle, super PAC spending is far outpacing nonprofit spending. However, the report says that trend could change, saying "with clearly defined candidates for both the White House and in most congressional races, nonprofits are expected to become more active."