Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Was eliminating dark money donor disclosure a good thing? Generation Now may suggest not so much

A few weeks ago a federal grand jury indicted the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the State of Ohio, Larry Householder, along with 4 other individuals and a social welfare organization called Generation Now, exempt under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code, for engaging in a bribery scheme to pass legislation regarding nuclear energy that was worth about $1 billion. It involved approximately $60 million in bribes.

I was not blogging at the time, so writing this up after the announcement, but in my opinion this was a major indictment of the decision of the IRS to eliminate donor disclosure for dark money organizations like 501(c)(4) and (6) organizations. Disclosure of these dollars that the indictment alleges to be bribes could have very well alerted the IRS to a potentially problematic scheme. Additionally, there would have been the potential of asserting a false statement on the Form 990 filed by the social welfare organization. 

The evidence is particularly indicative that unscrupulous folk may see dark money organizations as an easy method of laundering money now: "In March 2017, Householder began receiving quarterly $250,000 payments from the related-energy companies into the bank account of Generation Now. The defendants allegedly spent millions of the company’s dollars to support Householder’s political bid to become Speaker, to support House candidates they believed would back Householder, and for their own personal benefit.  When asked how much money was in Generation Now, Clark said, “it’s unlimited.”"

In the Criminal Complaint, U.S. v. Matthew Borges, Case No. 1:20-MJ-00526 (July 16, 2020) on page 15 there is the following evidence: “Clark discussed with Householder, the use of a 501(c)(4), controlled by Householder, to receive payments: “what’s interesting is that there’s a newer solution that didn’t occur in, 13 years ago, is that they can give as much or more to the (c)(4) and nobody would ever know. So you don’t have to be afraid of anyone because there’s a mechanism to change it.”

This one is worth following and contemplating as we conceive of better policy to govern our nonprofit tax exempt sector.

By: Philip Hackney

 

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/nonprofit/2020/08/was-eliminating-dark-money-donor-disclosure-a-good-thing-generation-now-may-suggest-not-so-much-.html

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Comments

I am pretty sure these folks have not yet filed a 990, so I am not sure schedule B would have helped.

Posted by: Russ Willis | Aug 19, 2020 3:07:37 PM

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