ATLANTA — Activists, politicians and watchdog groups from across the partisan spectrum are joining forces to fight the influence of so-called "dark money" in Georgia politics.
The new group aims to monitor spending by outside groups in November's general election and draft proposed legislation for next year's state legislative session to strengthen Georgia's campaign finance laws.
The coalition links several well-known conservative groups with some liberal-leaning and nonpartisan watchdog groups.
Leaders include Debbie Dooley of the Atlanta Tea Party; Republican state Sen. Josh McKoon; Kay Godwin of Georgia Conservatives in Action; Sara Henderson of Common Cause Georgia; and William Perry of Georgia Ethics Watchdogs.
The group calls itself the Georgia Coalition for Transparency and Ethics, Perry said in a statement.
Critics use the term "dark money" to describe funds spent to influence elections by groups including nonprofit organizations that are not required by federal law to disclose their donors.
Coalition members say such funds may have been a deciding factor in the Republican primary for Georgia's lieutenant governor, in which Geoff Duncan upset the heavily favored David Shafer. Outside groups reported spending millions to tip the race.
"The trend toward well financed third-party expenditures that are set up to elect or defeat candidates for office, not to advocate for issues, has accelerated exponentially over that time," McKoon, who endorsed Shafer, said in a statement.
"The people of our state have a right to know who is underwriting these multimillion dollar campaign efforts," McKoon said.
The group wants to hear from voters who receive "questionable mail pieces or who hear or see commercials or other advertisements by non-candidate committees or other organizations."