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Alabama: contributors can mask their contributions by running them through PACs

The Birmingham News' long story on campaign finance Alabama-style begins: Gov. Bob Riley has raised more campaign money than any other candidate running for state office this year, and he's done it with the help of PACs funded in part by unlikely supporters for a Republican - the state's teacher union and trial lawyers.

It's not clear how much, if any, of the six Tuscaloosa-based PACs' money from trial lawyers and AEA went to Riley's campaign because state law doesn't require political action committees to identify how contributors want their money handed out. And the handful of people who know - the candidate, the contributor and the PAC operator - typically don't talk about it.

But an analysis of campaign finances by The Birmingham News shows Riley's campaign received most of its PAC contributions shortly after the PACs received money from their largest contributors, AEA and trial lawyers.

The PAC money Riley received highlights a larger issue in Alabama politics. Candidates receive millions of dollars each year from PACs without identifying the true source of the money. Dozens of PACs created by lobbyists and political insiders help hide the contributors. -- PACs often mask who's behind gift

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