Watch CBSN Live

Liberal super PACs exploit loophole to keep donors unknown

election campaign finance

As super PAC filings pour into the Federal Election Committee (FEC) on Tuesday, it's clear that the people filing them are savvy about getting around disclosure requirements. Several left-leaning super PACs have raised a significant amount of money without listing the individual names of any of their donors.

This is the new norm, now that the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision allows unlimited contributions from unions and corporations, as well as individuals, as long as they do not coordinate with the candidate they support. They have collectively spent more than $44 million during Campaign 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

For example, the AFL-CIO super PAC received $2.2 million from...  the AFL-CIO; the super PAC provided no breakdown of who gave the original money to the union. The union's super PAC also got $500,000 from each of the following unions: American Federation of Teachers, Unite Here Tip State and Local Fund, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The America Votes Action Fund, a liberal D.C.-based organization, contributed more than $500,000 to the effort to recall two conservative Wisconsin senators who voted alongside Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's controversial union-busting and budget-cutting measures. Of the fund's 21 contributors, the Teamsters' political action committee, DRIVE, donated $400,000.

The Citizens for Strength and Security super PAC, founded by a former aide to former presidential candidate John Edwards, collected its $71,945 in donations almost entirely from its own nonprofit, called Citizens for Strength and Security. The super PAC did not return calls about the names of individuals who contributed to the nonprofit.

Super PACs exposed: Groups report fundraising and spending

Mostyn Law Firm, a Texas-based firm specializing in insurance litigation, exclusively donated $125,000 to Texans for America's Future, an anti-Rick Perry super PAC, listing just the name of the law firm.

Political scholar Norm Ornstein from the American Enterprise Institute told CBS News that he thinks disclosure of donations should be mandatory and he expressed frustration with the Supreme Court for handing down the Citizens United decision.

"The thing that needs to change the most is the Supreme Court," Ornstein said. "If I could do one thing, it would be to raise a generous retirement package for Justice Kennedy, but if we can't change the Supreme Court , we need at the minimum a truly robust regime of disclosure."