International Business Times: How Republicans Protect Anonymous Donors And Their ‘Dark Money’ Groups (In the News)

International Business Times: How Republicans Protect Anonymous Donors And Their ‘Dark Money’ Groups

By Josh Keefe

Lawmakers in the current Congress have slipped language into two spending bills to protect so-called “dark money” nonprofits from IRS scrutiny. The provisions prevent the IRS from examining or defining the nebulous rules that govern those groups, which are not required to disclose their donors. Critics say those groups are taking advantage of a broken campaign finance system – and charge that Republicans in both Congress and the Federal Elections Commission are making sure the system doesn’t get fixed.

“Dark money” is a term used to describe spending by nonprofit “social welfare” organizations, usually 501(c)(4) organizations, which are named after the section of the tax code that created them. They are called “dark” because they don’t have to disclose their donors, due to a 1958 Supreme Court decision that ruled the NAACP didn’t have to disclose its donors to the state of Alabama…

Those who defend the practice on free speech grounds believe the term “dark money” is sensationalist, and argue that it accounts for less than five percent of total campaign spending.

A 501(c)(4) can engage in politics and still maintain its tax exempt status so long as politics is not its “primary activity.”