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DPE Tuesday Talk Series: Stan Oklobdzija, “Dark Parties: Citizens United, Dark Money Networks and the Evolution of Political Parties.”

The Division of Politics & Economics invites the CGU community to attend this week’s Tuesday Lunch Talk featuring Stan Oklobdzija, UCSD. Lunch will be provided.

Stan Oklobdzija is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at UC San Diego. His work has been published in State Politics and Policy Quarterly and his research interests revolve around campaign finance, election law and state politics. Prior to graduate school, he worked as a reporter at the Sacramento Bee.

Talk title: Dark Parties: Citizens United, Dark Money Networks and the Evolution of Political Parties

Stan Oklobdzija
Stan Oklobdzija

Talk Description:
Following the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, independent expenditures have grown dramatically both in terms of raw dollars and as a percentage of spending in elections. A large and growing portion comes from political nonprofits—so called “dark money” groups—named because the terms of their incorporation allow them to partially obscure the sources of their income. I develop a new dataset of about 2,350,000 tax documents released by the IRS and use it to test a new theory of spending in Congressional elections. I posit that the pathways for anonymous giving that emerged from the Citizens United decision allowed ideologically motivated interest groups to form new networks and more aggressively challenge more established factions of political parties in way previously unfeasible. Testing this theory, I find strong support that these groups back more extremist candidates—especially in party primaries—than either formal party organizations or access-oriented interest groups. These results give evidence to recent suggestions by some scholars that Congressional polarization may be in part caused by changes in campaign finance law that empowered these ideologically motivated groups while hobbling efforts of more moderate party factions.

More information about the DPE Tuesday Talk Series can be found here.