Opinion

How elections are bought now

A Gazette editorial from the Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Hypothetically, the Mafia or a fanatic terror group could sneak millions of dirty “dark money” into U.S. politics, using nonprofit fronts that pretend to advance “social welfare.” The money could pay for smear campaign ads — and nobody would know who bought them.

The problem of hidden cash was spotlighted Saturday when reporter David Gutman revealed that a mysterious Charleston outfit called Jasper Reserves LLC gave $1 million to a Super PAC trying to elect Republican Jeb Bush as president.

Jasper listed its address as 209 Capitol Street — but there’s no identifying marker at that building, and nobody there had ever heard of Jasper. No phone number or website is known.

Jasper isn’t registered as a West Virginia business. What is it? Where did it get $1 million? What’s going on?

An Australian camping group is called Wee Jasper Reserves — but we doubt that it’s the same Jasper.

 The state Elections Division in the secretary of state’s office should launch an investigation to try to identify the mystery firm. West Virginians deserve to know who is pouring seven-figure sums through a Charleston mailbox.

After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that corporations are “persons” with a right of free speech — meaning the ability to funnel millions into politics — so-called dark money has swelled into a tsunami…

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