MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We have seen all the TV ads hitting the airwaves this campaign season. It turns out dark money from outside groups is pouring into Minnesota in support of state politics this year.
A new University of Minnesota study finds independent spending is already in the millions of dollars, and rising.
It is hard to miss those television ads attacking Jeff Johnson. They are produced by the left-leaning Alliance for a Better Minnesota, which has already spent $1.4 million this year.
And a new report from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs says it is just the tip of the iceberg.
Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the Humphrey School, is part of a team of researchers following the money.
“We are now able to track the money,” Jacobs said. “It’s like having a secret agent sneaking into our elections and trying to influence it. We don’t know who they are, and what their intent is.”
The report found outside groups who do not identify all their donors are spending freely, like the right-leaning Minnesota Action Network against Democrat Tim Walz.
Among the report’s findings. Democratic candidates have a 2 to 1 advantage in overall support over Republicans: $8,124,136 to $3,943,148.
In the governor’s race, total spending for Democrat Tim Walz dwarfs spending for Republican Jeff Johnson 4 to 1: $5,809,103 to $1,395,473
But that flips in the race for control of the Minnesota House, where right-leaning groups are outspending on Republican candidates. It is more money than Democrats are spending: $2,322,107 to $1,901,644
Future reports will break down the dark money in Minnesota’s Congressional and Senate races, where Jacobs says more and more money is seeping in.
“I think this is a dangerous development, particularly with the lack of disclosure,” Jacobs said.
There are 34 days until Election Day.