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ProPublica: How the IRS ignores 'nonprofit' electioneering of shadow committees. Corporate welfare?

A must-read from Pro Publica:

Matt Brooks describes the mission of the Republican Jewish Coalition as educating the Jewish community about critical domestic and foreign policy issues.

But the well-dressed crowd that gathered in May for a luncheon on the 24th floor of a New York law firm easily could have figured that the group had a different purpose: Helping Mitt Romney win the presidency.

Brooks, the group's executive director, showed the 100 or so attendees two coalition-funded ads taking aim at President Barack Obama. Then Brooks made a pitch for a $6.5 million plan to help Romney in battleground states, reminding guests that their donations would not be publicly disclosed by the tax-exempt group.

"Contributions to the RJC are not reported," Brooks told the people sitting around a horseshoe-shaped table. "We don't make our donors' names available. We can take corporate money, personal money, cash, shekels, whatever you got."

The Republican Jewish Coalition and similar organizations enjoy tax-exempt status in exchange for promoting social welfare. In this election, the most expensive in U.S. history, they also have emerged as the primary conduit for anonymous big-money contributions.

Forget super PACs, their much-hyped cousins, which can take unlimited contributions but must name their donors. More money is being spent on TV advertising in the presidential race by social welfare nonprofits, known as 501(c)(4)s for their section of the tax code, than by any other type of independent group.

As of Aug. 8, they had spent more than $71 million on ads mentioning a candidate for president, according to estimates by Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group, or CMAG. Super PACs have spent an estimated $56 million.

Congress created the legal framework for 501(c)(4) nonprofits nearly a century ago. To receive the tax exemption, groups were supposed to be "operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare." The IRS later opened the door to some forms of political activity by interpreting the statute to mean groups had to be "primarily" engaged in enhancing social welfare. But neither the tax code nor regulators set out how this would be measured.

In recent years, Democrats and Republicans alike have seized on that seemingly innocuous wording to create the darkest corner of American political fundraising.

An investigation by ProPublica, drawing on documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission, offers the most detailed picture to date of how 501(c)(4) groups have used their tax status for purposes likely never intended.

More here

Comments

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whasup

Marc, ain't it funny how your post only mentions a Republican group as doing this, even though the ProPublica report plainly describes it, with examples, of how Democrat-aligned groups do it also?

Note: Using the "I'm just quoting from the start of their report" argument doesn't cut it, if you are actually engaging in journalism, rather than politics.

Maybe you ought to form your own "social welfare" nonprofit to collect money to support such politicking, disguised as reporting.

BTW, now that the Wookies on the Supreme Court in the Obamacare decision have granted Congress broad powers to "tax" things we do and have--as well as things we don't do and don't have ...

Maybe Congress has the power to tax spending that supports "speech" as allowed under Citizens United.

JP Knight

These restrictions on speech are probably illegal (unconstitutional) anyway, or would be if the Justices on the SC had any sense. But of course [as whasup wisely notes] when conservatives speak out they must be exposed! The IRS must swing into action, and the conservatives must silenced! When liberal pro-Obama groups get right up to, or even cross the line, however, it's just not news - and both the IRS and Caputo look the other way.

Dewyne Douglass

The above two post must be on super high Tea and have forgot what drinking the tea party hipo will do too their brain!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Guy

More scummy rethugliCON tactics used to buy masterhood of the people under the guise of 'freedom'. Don't drink the tea.

Michael Cornelia

I have been seeking IRS tax help for quite sometime now. I want to assure that my taxes are filed correctly and adhere to the IRS tax code. Has anyone done this without the help of a professional. Is it possible? I am just curious as to how hard the process is.

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