Monday, October 18, 2010

Is the GOP breaking already lenient campaign finance laws?

Posted By on Mon, Oct 18, 2010 at 12:36 PM

They're definitely pushing it. A lot of the money being funneled into this year's election is coming through nonprofit organizations. This is happening because it enables donors to, they hope, remain anonymous. Why would they want to do that? Remember the push back when both Target and Best Buy donated to a homophobic candidate? Those in power do. It's for that reason, and others we may or may not ever be privy to, that they're trying to keep their donations under the radar. You see, they don't want you to know that they're attempting to buy Washington (and succeeding).

From The New York Times:

A recent television commercial sponsored by an Iowa-based nonprofit group, American Future Fund, attacking Representative Bobby Bright, an Alabama Democrat, could hardly have been more explicit in its closing: “On Election Day,” the narrator said, “take the right path. Vote against Bobby Bright.”

In the process, however, the groups are, as never before, pushing the legal limits that enable them to preserve the anonymity of their donors. They are doing so just as Democratic officials and campaign finance watchdogs — alarmed by the gushers of secret money pouring into races, largely in favor of Republicans — have stepped up their calls for investigations by regulators.

The basic rule of thumb for nonprofit groups organized under Section 501(c) of the tax code is that more than 50 percent of their annual activities cannot be political. Although it is a matter of debate how spending on traditional issue ads would be categorized by the Internal Revenue Service, it is indisputable that spending on express advocacy would be classified as political.

Read the rest of this article, by Michael Luo, here.

Now, as we all can recall, every politician says they're in favor of campaign finance reform and shorter term limits until they actually get to Washington. But, these days, thanks to the Supreme Court's bullshit decision allowing corporations to donate unlimited amounts of cash to political campaigns and causes, so much cash has flooded this election, it's difficult to hear anyone protesting the ruling over the acidic campaign ads bought and paid for by tax-exempt, non-profit organizations.

Here's Lawrence Lessing, a Harvard University law professor and expert on ethics, discussing the Supreme Court's decision in February this year:

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes snarky commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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