Case Studies»

CounterPAC: "Dark Money Mike"

At almost $4 billion, 2014’s midterm elections were the most expensive ever. And roughly one quarter of the total consisted of “dark money”—funds spent by outside, anonymous sources (thanks for that, Citizens United). It was in this climate that a non-partisan group called assembled with the mission of battling the corruption and conflicts of interest that untraceable spending inevitably brings to our electoral process.

Inspired by Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown’s commitment to reject outside spending in the 2012 MA Senate race, CounterPAC approached 2014 midterm candidates across the US and asked them to sign a similar pledge. Some candidates agreed to reject secret spending. But some would not.


Our first TV ad for CounterPAC takes aim at CO Rep Mike Coffman, who’d been enjoying the support of six figure campaign ads from anonymous sources. ART NOT WAR took the liberty of calling out who those sources might likely be—big tobacco? Russian oil magnates? Too-big-to-jail Wall St. Bankers? It was clear our inquiry struck a chord with Rep Coffman. When ART NOT WAR’s message aired, Coffman’s campaign sent cease and desist orders to all stations airing the ad. Of course, Coffman couldn’t prove that any of the suggestions we made were false. So none of the stations heeded his request. ART NOT WAR and CounterPAC had successfully thrown down the gauntlet to candidates nationwide to take the high road of transparency with their electorate or to be held accountable.