This is a continuation of a prior post concerning initiatives to fight big money in politics. In that post, 4 initiatives were discussed in which action can be taken to reduce the influence of big money in politics and in our government or, at least, bring attention to that need. This post discusses 4 more initiatives.
5. SEC Regulation
This initiative involves soliciting the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a rules change in order to provide more transparency in corporate political spending. One of the arguments used by the Supreme Court in substantiating its Citizens United decision was that there would be full disclosure and transparency in corporate political spending, so there was no need to worry. However, this has turned out not to be the case. Because of the dysfunctional Federal Election Commission (FEC), disclosure rules are becoming more and more ineffective because of all the loopholes. Even Congress tried to pass a law requiring all publicly traded corporations to disclose their political spending, but has twice failed. Many are now looking to the SEC to act. Since the SEC has rulemaking authority in this area, it has the power to require disclosure. Continue reading
Posted in Money in Politics
Tagged big money in politics, Center for Political Accountability, Citizens United, corporate political accountability and disclosure, disclose political spending, dysfunctional Federal Election Commission, FEC, initiate a shareholder resolution, initiatives to fight big money in politics, SEC, shareholder resolution to require disclosure, Stamp Stampede, transparency in corporate political spending
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