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Joe Biden's presidential victory was aided by $174 million in dark money contributions, according to a report by OpenSecrets.

Dark money spending exceeded $1 billion in 2020 election

More than $1 billion spent on the 2020 election — the most expensive presidential contest in history — came from unknown sources.

Because of the secretive nature of this so-called dark money, it's difficult to capture the entire scope of such undisclosed spending. So this enormous sum, first reported by OpenSecrets, is actually a conservative estimate. The organization, which tracks money in politics, published its report Wednesday after studying Federal Election Commission reports and advertising data.

Ironically, Democrats, who largely advocate for bolstering transparency around political spending, were the ones who benefited most from these undisclosed funds. OpenSecrets found that liberal dark money groups spent $514 million last year, compared to $200 million spent by conservative groups.

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Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, flanked by fellow Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Jeff Merkley, introduced their version of the bill Wednesday.

Biden's call for filibuster change gives HR 1 advocates modest reason for hope

President Biden has thrown a lifeline toward HR 1, his party's comprehensive response to voter suppression and the American republic's other most serious ailments. But, while the legislation was launched in the Senate on Wednesday, Biden's new support for weakening the filibuster is not nearly enough to assure he'll get to sign the bill.

Opponents of legislation should be forced to verbalize their opposition and stage their dilatory protests in person on the Senate floor, Biden said Tuesday. That would push the filibuster closer to its original form and potentially weaken the Republican minority's resolve for blocking almost everything on the Democratic agenda.

But the president did not get behind ending the de facto requirement that 60 senators support legislation, or the idea of a carve-out so voting rights bills could pass with a simple majority. Without such changes, the GOP would seemingly still be able to devote its collective stamina to talking the fix-the-system package to death.

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Krysten Sinema is one of two Democrats standing in the way of long-overdue Senate reforms, writes Golden.

Big democracy reforms can't happen unless the Senate fixes its huge anti-democratic flaw

Golden is the author of "Unlock Congress" (Why Not Books, 2015) and a senior fellow at the Adlai Stevenson Center on Democracy. He is a member of The Fulcrum's editorial advisory board.

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Institute for Free Speech

David Keating is the president of the Institute for Free Speech.

Meet the reformer: David Keating, leader for the right on money in politics

Closing in on nine years as president of the Institute for Free Speech, David Keating long ago cemented his status as one of the foremost conservative forces in the money-in-politics debate. The nonprofit's aim is to safeguard First Amendment rights, particularly unfettered political speech, and views deregulation of campaign finance as central to that goal. Keating took charge after a similar group he started, SpeechNow.org, won a federal lawsuit to end donation and spending limits on independent political groups — thus creating super PACs. He had top posts at two prominent fiscal conservative organizations, the Club for Growth and the National Taxpayers Union, earlier in a D.C. advocacy career dating to the 1980s. His answers have been edited for length and clarity.

What's democracy's biggest challenge, in 10 words or less?

Stopping government from discouraging dissent.

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