The Koch brothers have pledged to spend $889M on 2016 races. We are the watchdog group tracking ALL money in politics. We're the Center for Responsive Politics, AMA!
Who we are: Greetings, Reddit! We're back and ready to take on your money-in-politics questions!
We are some of the staff at the Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.org), a nonpartisan research organization that downloads and analyzes campaign finance and lobbying data and produces original journalism on those subjects. We also research the personal finances of members of Congress. We only work at the federal level (presidential and congressional races), so we can't answer your questions about state or local-level races or initiatives. Here's our mission.
Sheila Krumholz is our executive director, a post she's held since 2006. She knows campaign finance inside-out, having served before that as CRP's research director, supervising data analysis for OpenSecrets.org and the organization's clients.
Robert Maguire, the political nonprofits investigator, is the engineer behind CRP's Politically Active Nonprofits project, which tracks the financial networks of "dark money" groups, mainly 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) organizations, such as those funded by David and Charles Koch.
Bob Biersack, a Senior Fellow at CRP, spent 30 years on the staff of the U.S. Federal Election Commission, where he was the FEC's statistician, its press officer, and a special assistant working to redesign the disclosure process.
Viveca Novak, editorial and communications director, is an award-winning journalist who runs the OpenSecrets Blog and fields press inquiries. Previously, Viveca was deputy director of FactCheck.org and a Washington correspondent for Time magazine and The Wall Street Journal.
Luke Breckenridge, the outreach and social media coordinator, promotes CRP's research and blog posts, writes the weekly newsletter, and works to increase citizen engagement on behalf of the organization.
Down to business ...
Hit us with your best questions. What is "dark money?" How big an impact do figures like Tom Steyer or the Koch brothers have on the electoral process? How expensive is it to get elected in America? What are the rules for disclosure of different types of campaign finance contributions? Who benefits from this setup? What's the difference between 100 tiny horses making 100 tiny contributions and one big duck making a big contribution (seriously though - there's a difference)?
We'll all be using /u/opensecretsdc to respond, but signing off with our initials so you can tell who's who.
UPDATE: This was a blast! It's past 2:30, some senior staff have to sign off. Please keep asking questions and we'll do our best to get back to you!
UPDATE #2: We're headed out for the evening. We'll be checking the thread over the weekend / next week trying to answer your questions. Thanks again, Reddit.