A “dark money” fund is one where, because of how the fund is organized and under what 501(c) number it is characterized, individuals can secretly send vast funds to it and the organization can then spend the funds in an attempt to influence an election or policy decision without ever having to disclose who its donors are or how it sources its funding. As the Brennan Center for Justice notes:
Citizens United created loopholes in campaign disclosure rules that have made so-called dark money — funds from groups that do not disclose their donors — disturbingly common. Powerful groups have poured more than $1 billion into federal elections since 2010, typically concentrating on the most competitive races. Dark money continues to seep into executive, legislative, and even judicial elections, threatening the impartiality of state supreme courts across the country. Without transparency, voters don’t know who is trying to influence them, making it harder for them to reach informed decisions
Well now two billionaires are in a fight over dark money, with Elon Musk highlighting and drawing attention to a Breitbart article about how Gates’ foundation has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into organizations that have attacked Elon Musk since news broke about his plan to buy Twitter. Commenting on the tweet, Elon simply said “sigh”.
In the article, Breitbart, which used research and analysis from the newly-formed Foundation for Freedom Online (FFO) to discover what Gates was up to, exposes Gates as having funded 11 of the organizations that signed onto a letter attacking Musk. In the letter, the organizations say:
Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter will further toxify our information ecosystem and be a direct threat to public safety, especially among those already most vulnerable and marginalized.
Twitter has outsized influence in shaping both public discourse and industrywide platform governance standards. While the company is hardly a posterchild for healthy social media, it has taken welcome steps in recent years to mitigate systemic risks, ratcheting up pressure on the likes of Facebook and YouTube to follow suit. Musk intends to steamroll those safeguards and provide a megaphone to extremists who traffic in disinformation, hate, and harassment. Under the guise of ‘free speech,’ his vision will silence and endanger marginalized communities, and tear at the fraying fabric of democracy.
The undersigned organizations believe that Twitter should continue to uphold the practices that serve as guideposts for other Big Tech platforms. We call on you – Twitter’s top advertisers – to commit to these standards as non-negotiable requirements for advertising on the platform:
Their three demands are:
1. Keep accounts including those of public figures and politicians that were removed for egregious violations of Twitter Rules – such as harassment, violence, and hateful conduct – off the platform
2. Beyond algorithmic transparency, ensure algorithmic accountability, preserve people’s privacy, and commit to depolarizing the algorithm.
3. Continue Twitter’s commitment to transparency and researcher access.
In other words, the dark money groups funded by Gates are pushing for the platform to keep censoring people they don’t like and cracking down on speech that is distasteful but not illegal, something Musk has indicated that he doesn’t want to do.
Well now Musk is firing back, as Fox recently covered in a great segment, as you can watch here: