Tag Archives: BCRA

The Real Story Behind 501(c)(4)s and 527s – Part II

by Kellye

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


Citizens United Ruling Part 4

by Barb and Kellye

This is the final post in a 4 part series covering the 7 major questions considered in the Supreme Court’s Citizens United case (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). This post covers the last 2 questions. One question involves whether the courts should give proper deference to legislatures in deciding if and how to regulate political spending. The other question concerns whether the playing field between media corporations and all other corporations should be leveled when it comes to unlimited free speech.

Should legislatures be given proper deference by the courts in deciding if and how to regulate corporate political spending? Continue reading

Citizens United Ruling Part 2

by Barb and Kellye

This is the second part of a series of posts outlining the 7 major questions considered by the Supreme Court in making its Citizens United decision (Part 1). This post deals with two of those major questions. One question involves whether the political speech rights of corporations should be curbed, and the other involves the rights of shareholders when there is disfavored corporate political speech. (Be sure to read to the end of the post; there is a link to an action that each of us can take to help minimize the effect of the Citizens United decision).

Do corporations have the right to unlimited political speech? Continue reading

Citizens United Introduction

The Supreme Court’s ruling in  Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) has been credited with damaging our democracy due to its treatment of corporations as “persons” with the same rights, including free speech, of individuals. The case originally addressed “electioneering communications,” defined by the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA or McCain-Feingold) as broadcast ads that clearly identify a federal candidate, are targeted to the candidate’s electorate and are broadcast within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election. The non-profit group Citizens United had planned to offer (through video on demand) a political documentary, Hillary: The Movie (with similar motives to the political documentary about Obama, 2016), less than 30 days before the 2008 primaries. Because of BCRA, the federal government stopped them, and the case went to court.

In 2009, the case ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Citizens United group wanted a decision on a narrow question: did the BCRA’s rules on electioneering communications apply to their situation? Continue reading