Matt Rothschild
Campaign Cash

IRS Opens Door to Foreign, Dark Money

Ends rule requiring nonprofits spending on campaigns to disclose names of anyone giving $5,000 or more.

By - Jun 1st, 2020 06:36 pm
Cash. (CC0 Creative Commons).

Cash. (CC0 Creative Commons).

This week, the IRS made it easier for the super rich, corporations, and foreigners to secretly influence U.S. elections.

The IRS got rid of the rule that required many nonprofits that engage in electioneering to disclose the names and addresses of anyone who gives them $5,000 or more a year. Now these nonprofits needn’t do that anymore.

Their donors can now give huge amounts to them anonymously.

That includes super-wealthy donors who funnel their political donations through nonprofits.

And corporations that can do the same thing.

It’s also a huge opening for any foreign donor — or foreign government  — that wants to undermine our democracy. It’s still illegal for non-citizens to spend money to try to influence the outcome of our elections, but now there will be almost no way to find out who is paying for the ads that are splattering our screens because the group behind them doesn’t have a legal requirement to disclose who their big donors are.

This further undermines our electoral process at a time when more and more dark money has been inundating our elections, and when we’ve already seen foreign powers like Russia gaming our system. This decision will make that easier to accomplish.

Even in the controversial Citizens United decision of 2010, which opened the door to unlimited corporate donations, eight of the nine justices of the Supreme Court extolled more, not less, disclosure. We need, they said, “transparency that enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.”

With this new IRS ruling, it’ll be very difficult for the electorate to “make informed decisions” and “give proper weight to different speakers” because we won’t even know who is paying those speakers.

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