Current law invites foreign governments and agents to corrupt U.S. politics. Campaign finance laws also breed corruption inside the United States.

Federal election laws and Supreme Court rulings have combined to create fertile conditions that spread the disease of corruption — while holding no one accountable.

The use of “dark money” has always been an issue in U.S. politics. People who have wanted to sway political opinions and buy votes anonymously could find ways to do it.

But the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United created an epidemic of illegal and unethical behavior. The problem is rooted in the amount of anonymous funds being raised and spent as well as in the players involved.

One of the organizations trying to track dark money and its growth is OpenSecrets.org, which explains who the players might be and the campaigns and candidates in which they are most active.

OpenSecrets.org tracks mostly federal money — not what happens at the state and local level. It also points out that a lot of groups don’t report their political spending to the Federal Election Commission.

Still, early in 2019, the group noted that dark money had surpassed $1 billion. That figure was only what was reported to the FEC, the group said, representing a fraction of what is really being spent by anonymous sources to sway elections.

Who are these anonymous sources?

A recent headline in USA Today provides an answer: “Supreme Court and Citizens United led Trump, Giuliani & friends into the Ukraine swamp.”

In that opinion piece, the authors make the case that the current environment invites foreign governments and agents of foreign interests to corrupt our elections.

In another case, Republicans at the FEC blocked further investigation into whether Russia made illegal political contributions to the NRA, which spent $30 million supporting Donald Trump in 2016.

The $30 million was part of a splurge of spending in 2016 by the gun rights group, which saw total expenditures rise to $419 million, according to OpenSecrets.org

“As a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization, the NRA-ILA does not have to disclose the donors who fueled its record spending. And in 2016 elections alone, this ‘dark money’ arm of the NRA spent as much as it had in every election going back to 1992, combined.”

To be clear, this is not just a Republican issue.

Democrats love their dark money, too.

The Center for Public Integrity published a piece showing how Democrats used dark money to help Sen. Doug Jones win a special election in Alabama in 2017, and it noted that dark money groups were welcome partners of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.

This should be an easy one for Americans interested in accountability.

Yes, the First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech. But it makes no guarantees that you can hide your identity and your agenda by laundering money through dark money groups. (Many of which, to add insult to injury, are tax exempt.)

The Supreme Court disagrees on that point. It basically has ruled that money is speech, and that corporations and political groups have the same rights as individuals.

The only feasible remedy is through Congress. But Congress won’t act unless voters demand better reporting requirements.

The need for accountability far outweighs any argument for anonymity. Americans have a right to know who is bankrolling political candidates and causes.

A native of Garden City, Julie Doll is a former journalist who has worked at newspapers across Kansas.