Require Political Organizations Spending Millions on Political Ads to Prove Their Money Comes from Legal SourcesPETITIONS, POLITICS — BY JOSH SAGER ON MAY 8, 2012 3:19 PM
Sign the Petition: http://forcechange.com/20473/require-political-organizations-spending-millions-on-political-ads-to-prove-their-money-comes-from-legal-sources/
Target: Federal Elections Commission Staff Director Alec Palmer
Goal: To demand that the Federal Elections Committee require every politically involved 501(C)(4) non-profit group disclose a list of all donors and accompanying monetary amounts to the FEC, in order to prevent illegal donations.
The current political landscape in the U.S. is filled with issue advocacy groups, Political Action Committees, and non-profit groups. Many of these political advocacy groups buy advertising time, and run shadow campaigns in parallel with a political party or an individual candidate (ex. Restore Our Future PAC and Mitt Romney). Unfortunately, some groups have utilized 501(c)(4) groups in a way which allows them to shield donation disclosure from even the Federal Elections Commission.
501(c)(4) organizations–named after its heading in the federal tax code–are defined as a tax-exempt non-profit groups which promotes the “social welfare.” These groups can become involved in politics, if their actions are supporting their work towards the social welfare, but their primary goal is not intended to be political. Money donated to 501(c)(4) organizations is not tax deductible and, in many cases, not disclosed to the government (FEC).
Due to a combination of several characteristics inherent to 501(c)(4)s, including the secret nature of donation/donors, their tax-exempt status, and the very broad classification of “social welfare,” these groups have been used–illegally–as political apparatus. The term “social welfare” has no defined legal definition, so as long as a group is not ostentatiously political (declaring support for a specific candidate), it is rarely called out on its political activity. Unlike many other types of political advocacy group, 501(c)(4)s are tax exempt and don’t need to declare who is giving money to them: this has led to huge amount of money to be donated, and not taxed, from completely anonymous donors.
This loophole allows large 501(c)(4), such as Crossroads GPS, Karl Rove’s campaigning group, to take unlimited money from undisclosed sources in order to spend in elections. While having unlimited money in politics has a tendency to cause corruption in government, having unlimited, anonymous and unregulated money in politics is far worse. If even the FEC doesn’t have access to donor lists, there is no guarantee that money is not being raised from foreign groups, which are not allowed to spend in our elections, or even illegal enterprises.
We need to protect the integrity of our elections and a vital portion of this is to prevent illegal donations from being used to sway elections. This petition is intended to make the FEC aware that there is support ready to help them if they are willing to take on money in politics. The integrity of elections is not a partisan issue; it is an issue or whether or not we desire a functioning democracy.
Dear Federal Elections Commission Staff Director Alec Palmer,
As you are probably aware, there are numerous 501(c)(4) organizations which have gradually become much more politically involved and economically powerful. These groups raise unlimited funds from donors, and are under no requirement to disclose the sources of these donations. Among these individuals and corporations, there is the potential for illegal donations as well as a complete lack of transparency.
What is stopping these groups from raising money from foreign companies, or even governments, in an attempt to influence the results of U.S. elections? Nothing is stopping this, because without proper disclosure rules there is no way to know whether or not a group is complying with the law. For as long as money can be raised without disclosure, nothing is stopping illegal campaign contributions from corrupting our elections.
Your agency is tasked with the vital responsibility of protecting the integrity of our elections, and you are unable to do this if you don’t have access to all donor information. We, the undersigned, will support your changing of campaign financing rules in order to compensate for this loophole and increase your ability to protect our elections. Force a full disclosure of donors and donations from all politically involved 501(c)(4) groups–those who are complying with the current finance law will suffer no consequences, yet those who break your rules can be fined and prohibited from continuing their illegal actions.
[Your Name Here]