During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden reportedly reeled in $145 million in anonymous contributions. The previous record of $113 million had been set by Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, during his failed 2012 run against former President Barack Obama.
Comparatively, former President Donald Trump only received about $28.4 million in dark money donations.
According to Meredith McGehee, the executive director of campaign finance reform advocacy group Issue One, “the whole point of dark money is to avoid public disclosure while getting private credit.”
Anonymous donations made in this way allow donors not to disclose the source of their money.
Historically, Democrats have decried the use of dark money.
But they openly embraced it over the past several election cycles as part of their effort to defeat Trump, Bloomberg noted.
For example, Priorities USA Action Fund used $26 million in dark-money donations, despite having previously denounced it.
The fund’s chairman, Guy Cecil, defended the left-wing super-PAC’s hypocrisy as necessary.
“We weren’t going to unilaterally disarm Trump and the right-wing forces that enabled him,” Cecil said in a statement.
Even Biden’s campaign called for campaign-finance reform throughout the presidential campaign, specifically advocating for a new rule that requires any organization spending more than $10,000 to influence elections to register with the FEC and disclose its donors.
However, at least one Democratic senator was willing to speak out against Biden’s use of dark money.
“Dark money is toxic to democracy—period,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, said in a statement.
“The fact that progressive groups have learned to fight back using similar tactics is no excuse for continuing the plague of dark money in America,” Whitehouse said.
Cecil said he believes progressives should take advantage of a “level playing field,” but added that his organization “looks forward to the day when unlimited money and super PACs are a thing of the past.”