In Part 1 on this subject (here), the history behind Montana’s Corrupt Practices Act, which made corporate contributions in state elections illegal, and the Montana Supreme Court case involving Western Tradition Partnership (WTP), which upheld Montana’s Corrupt Practices Act, are discussed.
Since the decision of the Montana Supreme Court contradicted the Citizens United ruling, WTP (now American Tradition Partnership, Inc. or ATP) appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 25, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled in American Tradition Partnership, Inc., v. Bullock, via a per curiam opinion (without hearing testimony) that the state of Montana had to accept the Citizens United decision. In Citizens United, the Supreme Court majority said that there was no evidence of anything corrupting about independent spending. In the absence of evidence that WTP was coordinating with the candidates, there was nothing that Montana could do.
But here is where the irony comes into play, in the form of boxes found in a Colorado meth house. Continue reading
Posted in 501(c)4 groups, Campaign Finance Abuse, Citizens United, Corruption, Money in Politics
Tagged American Tradition Partnership Inc. v. Bullock, ATP, Big Sky Big Money, Joel Boniek, Montana, Montana Commissioner of Political Practices, PBS Frontline, U.S. Supreme Court, Western Tradition Partnership, WTP
This blog is about big money in politics and the corruption that follows it. Citizens for Truth was started as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010. This ruling effectively removed limits on the amount of money corporations and unions can spend in elections. The only requirement is that the expenditures must be independent of the candidate’s own campaign — there can be no coordination or other collaboration between the candidate or political party and the outside group.
Since that decision, the number of outside groups has increased exponentially. Each election seems to involve more money than the one before it. National elections, but also state and local, are heavily influenced by big money donors. It is often the case that big money donors in state and local elections don’t even live in the state, let alone the local areas. As a result, outside groups, along with their corporate and out-of-state donors, are calling the shots in state and local elections, not the people who actually live there. The two primary types of big money outside groups are SuperPACS and 501(c)4 “social welfare” organizations (for more information see these posts: 501(c)4s; PACs, SuperPACS, 501(c)4s).
The key difference between these two groups is disclosure. SuperPACs are required to disclose donations, while 501(c)4s are not. The latter is often referred to as “dark money.”
Let’s switch gears for a moment and discuss Montana’s importance in campaign finance. Continue reading
Posted in 501(c)4 groups, Citizens United, Corruption, Supreme Court
Tagged 17th Amendment, 501(c)4 group, big money donors, big money in politics, campaign finance, Citizens United, Corrupt Practices Act, corruption, Montana, Montana Supreme Court, Supreme Court, Western Tradition Partnership, WTP
In an update to the previous post (Part 1), Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland filed a lawsuit last week on August 21 against the U.S. Treasury Department. This lawsuit would force the IRS to change its criteria for approval of organizations desiring 501(c)(4) status to what Congress had intended when it created that status and to enforce the law as written (click here for article). Specifically, an organization desiring 501(c)(4) status must be “operated exclusively for the promotion of public welfare.” Congress never intended section 501(c)(4) to be used by political groups to gain tax-exempt status.
After Congress decided to reform campaign finance in the early 1970’s with the passage of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and its amendments, Congress created section 527 of the IRS tax code to deal with political groups in 1975. This section of the code has its own set of rules in qualifying for tax-exempt status. Political committees (Republican National Committee, Democratic National Committee, and all the various Senate and House fund-raising committees), PACs and Super PACs fall into the 527 category. These groups are regulated by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) because their purpose is political. Continue reading
Posted in 501(c)4 groups, 527 Groups, Citizens United
Tagged 527 organizations, BCRA, Chris Van Hollen, electioneering communications, FEC, FECA, independent 527 entity, operated exclusively for the promotion of public welfare, soft money, stealth political action committees, tax-exempt status