Monday, May 6, 2013

Nonprofits Don't Want the Truth To Come Out

By Gary Snyder

In California, the Fair Political Practices Commission recently issued a series of subpoenas as part of an investigation to uncover the source of $11million involved in two ballot measures last fall.

Lawmakers in more than a dozen states have proposed legislation to force election-related groups to disclose their donors. 

Meanwhile, the Federal Election Commission is broken. The commission is supposed to enforce election laws and collect fundraising and spending reports filed by candidates, political parties, and outside groups. It also has the authority to conduct investigations and pursue fines or criminal convictions of those suspected of violating campaign finance laws. It is doing nothing. It is paralyzed by partisanship; the FEC has sat silent while spending on campaigns by secret donor groups has exploded.

These groups argue that, because they’re nonprofits, the law doesn’t require them to reveal their contributors.  It’s the FEC’s job to decide whether nonprofits spending money on political campaigns must identify donors. But the deadlocked commission can’t even get a majority to discuss the issue.

State officials have continuously criticized multiple federal entities as failing to respond swiftly to the new environment. The Internal Revenue Service has asked some nonprofits for more information about their activities, but has not indicated whether it has launched one formal investigation. And measures to compel disclosure have stalled in Congress and at the Federal Election Commission.

The 2012 campaign set a high-water mark for independent groups, which unleashed more than $1 billion into federal races, three times as much as in 2008, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The bulk of that spending was by "super PACs," which must disclose their donors. But nonprofit advocacy groups and trade organizations, which do not have to reveal their financial backers, accounted for $309 million. (bloomberg)

Nonprofit Imperative gathers its information principally from public documents...some of which are directly quoted. Virtually all cited are in some phase of criminal proceedings; some have not been charged, however. Cites in various media: Featured in print, broadcast, and online media outlets, including: Vermont Public Radio, Miami Herald, National Public Radio, Huffington Post, The Sun News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wall Street Journal (Profile, News and Photos), FOX2, ABC Spotlight on the News, WWJ Radio, Ethics World, Aspen Philanthropy Newsletter, Harvard Business Review, Current Affairs, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, St. Petersburg Times, B, USA Today Topics,, Responsive Philanthropy Magazine, New York Times...and many more Nonprofits: On the Brink (2006) Silence: The Impending Threat to the Charitable Sector (2011)
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