I’ve written and spoken many times about 501(c)(4) groups. This Huffington Post article, “Koch Brothers’ Real Fear Revealed In Secret Audio: Liberal Money,”and comments hasn’t changed my opinion.
People today want simple yes or no solutions for complex issues and play their respective political cards.
My question, however, does not require a yes or no answer, but there might be a simple answer that I just don’t know.
Whether you as a person agree or disagree politically with the Left, the Right, or anything in between, why would you want millions of dollars in anonymous, tax exempt, money tossed about in elections and political decisions?
Yes, at lower ends of the financial or any type of structure, openly supporting a candidate or issue can be hazardous to your well-being in more ways than one. For example in my profession it is less of a risk for a tenured faculty member to raise issues than someone simply on the tenure track. In many ways the hazard levels actually decrease in terms of stability as one rises higher upon their respective stratified economic or power ladders.
Admittedly, I would like Citizens overturned. I would like money invested into campaigns and elected officials limited.
Realistically I understand that probably won’t happen.
One can argue free speech, and I’ll accept that even if I don’t really understand how corporations need the same rights as individuals. Aren’t corporations actually groups of individuals? These individuals have not lost their individual rights as shareholders, but why can they in essence double down on those rights with an entity created by man? How is that entity by itself human and separate from those who make up the group?
My intent is actually simple. I just want to know who is bankrolling the candidates and messages.
Doesn’t it matter who the people are with the power to pull the strings?
Set some cap. I think we can come up with some number that we might not love but can at least one with which we can all live. Contributions to a candidate or organization below that number can be anonymous. Anything above must be disclosed. Before anyone argues that limits exist on the books and why not just enforce those, the non profit 501(c)(4) groups have no such limits. Before anyone argues that donations to these groups are not tax deductible, that applies to individuals and not to certain businesses. (Please reference earlier pieces on this site for links to the actual codes).
My rationale is succinct: Groups participating in political activities should not receive tax exempt status for their political work. The reason is that politics ain’t charity.
Regardless of rung on any ladder and any risks involved, all individuals maintain free speech and their right to contribute to whomever or whatever they wish.
If you have the desire and means to contribute well and above what most can, why would you want your contribution secret?
Make your support known, and it might actually inspire those with less to work for the same cause because of their respect for you.
Then again perhaps the point might be that secret, clandestine, undercover route might be the only way for certain individuals and groups to have influence because despite their financial success they lack the respect of others.
This isn’t about Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, liberals, or any labels. It’s about whether an elected representative answers to his or her constituents and what they feel is best for the United States of America as a country or if they have been purchased by someone else. Wouldn’t you want to know who is actually funding and in control of an organization to which you belong?