Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Eliza Newlin Carney has written a column in Roll Call highlighting the growing impact on tax-exempt nonprofit organizations of their new found freedom to be involved in elections. Besides summarizing the current debate over the benefits and risks of greater disclosure for such organization, the column also highlights the negative effects of this more prominent role on both nonprofits and entities that support them, including business corporations. For example, some donors to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and trade groups are barring the use of their contributions for election-related or political ads. Other donors are adopting their own disclosure policies, and most businesses are apparently avoiding donations to superPACs. Nevertheless, spending by groups other than candidates and political parties continues at an unprecedented pace; the Center for Responsive Politics's data shows such spending is approaching $150 million, or more than double the amount spent by this date in 2008, the next highest year for such expenditures. And these figures do not capture spending for activities that fall outside of the relatively narrow federal and state law definitions of election-related efforts.