How to tell the difference between super PACs and dark money groups

America First Policies, the nonprofit run by former Trump staffers and dedicated to supporting the president’s policies, has attracted a lot of news coverage over the past few weeks, between its avid participation in the Georgia special election and its ads targeting Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) for not supporting the Senate health care bill.

But even veteran reporters have been stumbling over terminology and erroneously calling the group a super PAC. It’s a 501(c)(4) “dark money” organization that, unlike a super PAC, does not have to disclose its donors.

The mistake is understandable — political advocacy and communication laws are rather tricky — but the distinction between super PACs and 501(c)(4)s is important to know. This mistake is sure to happen more frequently, especially because both types of group are becoming larger and larger players with each election, and their activities are often intertwined. Here’s our quick guide to parsing the difference.

 

superpacvsdarkmoney