Add Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) to the list of Citizen United's potential casualties. The moderate Democrat, who has held his seat since 2001, is now under attack from some of the most prominent Super PACs and political donors in the country.
According to MSNBC's Hardball, the Republican Super PAC American Crossroads has poured $6.2 million into the race between Nelson and Republican challenger Connie Mack IV. The Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson have also donated a million dollars each. In total, right-wing Super PACs and outside donors have put about $14.6 million into the campaign.
"At least we know who Sheldon Adelson is, because he's not hiding behind these IRS c(4) organizations that don't have to disclose their donors," Nelson said on Tuesday's Hardball. Most Super PAC funds come in the form of so-called "dark money" from donors who have the legal option of remaining anonymous.
The New York Times' Jonathan Weisman explained to host Chris Matthews how some of these outside spending groups worked around disclosure laws in order to influence elections.
"They go the IRS, say, 'We want to be a non-profit social welfare organization—we're not going to be involved in electoral politics, don't worry,'" Weisman said. "They get that designation from the IRS, therefore they don't have to divulge any of the names of their donors. They quickly get one $4 million donation from one anonymous donor, and immediately go on the air against 11 Democrats with just brutal ads."
Adelson, of course, may have reasons beyond just profit and ideology for wanting to influence the federal government. As Lean Forward reported on Monday, the billionaire's casino business is currently under federal investigation for potential violations of the Corrupt Practices Act.