A shadowy non-profit known as the Voter Participation Center reportedly spent over $100 million ahead of the 2020 presidential election to attract hundreds of thousands of votes from those considered likely to support Joe Biden.
The Washington-based group raised $85 million and spent an even larger amount delivering millions of mail and digital notifications to voters during 2020, The Hill reported this week. Accessing the group’s tax filings, the news outlet noted that last year’s spending dwarfed the $14 million it spent during the previous election in 2016.
Although the Voter Participation Center (VPC) does not explicitly campaign for specific candidates, it targets younger voters, minorities and unmarried women – all of whom traditionally favor Democrats but typically generate below-average turnouts.
The group’s CEO Tom Lopach told The Hill it had delivered some 371 million pieces of mail over the 2020 election cycle, urging voters to register for mail-in voting or to vote early. They also apparently sent out another 300 million digital messages through ads and emails.
Lopach estimated that the group had brought in about 272,000 votes from people who might not otherwise show up at polling stations – potentially helping Biden secure his narrow victories in swing states like Arizona, Wisconsin and Georgia.
Since the group is a registered non-profit, it is exempt from disclosing the sources of its funds – and Lopach did not elaborate. He did, however, say the group had “strong support from foundations” and “organizations who believe in voter participation, and private individuals.”
Describing the VPC as being among a “constellation of dark money organizations,” The Hill reported that hundreds of millions of “dark money” dollars flowed into the 2020 elections, both supporting and attacking Biden and Donald Trump, as well as prominent congressional candidates.
Watchdog group OpenSecrets, which tracks dark money in politics, has highlighted over $30 million in such funding spent during the election. That figure does not include funds from the VPC and other groups that have not filed with the IRS – which is how much of the dark money in elections only becomes publicly identified years later.