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First things first: We don't actually have any secret money. That Benjamin in the picture was a prop, and they made us give it back.

Now, if you're still with us.... This website comes with an explanation, but there are no Terms & Conditions and you don't have to click "I Accept". We also have a tantalizing yet high-minded plea for help.

That said, here's the short version of what we're about: Political money can be sorted into three piles — the candidates' cash, the parties' and everything else.

This "everything else" money is what we're looking at, where it comes from and how it's used in the presidential and Senate races. Outside groups have more financial freedom, and more secrecy, than the candidates or parties, and their combined spending will easily reach into nine figures.

The Secret Money Project is a joint undertaking of NPR and the Center for Investigative Reporting. Your reporters are Peter Overby, NPR's Power, Money and Influence Correspondent (yes, that's really the job title), and Will Evans, money-and-politics reporter for CIR.

So if you're interested in schemes to kneecap the opposition, strategies to sway voters without revealing where the financing came from, and sophisticated network-building on the Left and Right, welcome. We hope the project throws a little light on the "everything else" side of the '08 campaign.

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