Dark Money

Dark Money

Congress authorized a massive wrong in 2010, authorizing rivers of political money  after the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision. This 5-4 decision recognized corporations as people. I don’t have a problem with this because the first amendment is clear.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

You may disagree if this was the right decision. As a result, of this decision Super PAC’s were created. These non-profits can distribute 100% of their money to influence elections but cannot support a specific candidate. All expenditures and donations to Super PACs require public disclosure of their donors. This limits individual giving.

However, this allowed disturbing groups, mostly classified 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) by the IRS, to operate in the shadows. These non-profit groups can spend up to 50% of their expenditures on political spending. They are required to report all of their spendings but none of their donations. There needs to be a spotlight on the donors hiding in the shadows. Transparency is not a first amendment violation.

The US Chamber of Commerce is the leading group that leverages this loophole. They expended $5.2M in 2006, $300M during 2012 (presidential election cycle), and $170M during the 2014 midterm elections. Their influence has been successful both supporting a candidate or attacking an opponent, resulting in 75% of their candidates winning.

The long-term solution is for Congress to pass a law or the short-term solution is for our President to issue an executive order.  Plugging this loophole by requiring donor transparency, rights a wrong that has been overlooked for too long.

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