On 2nd October, the Atlantic Council published this report which outlines how hostile states use “dark money” to subvert liberal democracies’ political systems. It argues that this poses a grave threat to the integrity of democratic systems and, indeed, to national security itself, and argues for urgent and major reform of electoral rules in liberal democracies. It provides 3 case studies –
- The €20-€30 million in media spending in support of German far-right political party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) in 2016-2018. This money came from an opaque German association, which then transferred the money to a Swiss public relations company, which then spent the funds in Germany;
- Arron Banks, who backed Leave.eu and other pro-Leave groups prior to the UK’s 2016 Brexit referendum. He made the largest-ever political donation in British history; and
- The increasing importance of small donations under the $200 reporting threshold in US elections. The advent of cashless payment cards, cryptocurrency, and technology to allow automated mass donations has turned this rule into an open invitation to political money laundering.