More Evidence Key Dark Money Group May Have Misled IRS
by Kim Barker, ProPublica, and Rick Young and Emma Schwartz, Frontline Oct. 30, 2012, 7:57 p.m.
This story is being co-published with Frontline, which is also airing a documentary on the group tonight. Check your local listings.
New signs emerged Monday that a controversial nonprofit may have misled the Internal Revenue Service not only about its political activities but also about support from a purported donor.
Western Tradition Partnership, or WTP, sent the IRS a letter in 2008 asking the agency to expedite the group’s request for recognition of its tax-exempt status. The letter said that without it, the group’s principle donor, Jacob Jabs, would pull a planned grant of $300,000.
But Jabs, who runs Colorado’s largest furniture retailer, said on Monday he had never pledged money to the group, and never even been in contact with them until press stories appeared naming him.
by Justin Elliott ProPublica, Oct. 17, 2012, 10:41 a.m.
In a forthcoming law review article, Richard Briffault of Columbia Law School argues that the rise of super PACs and unfettered contributions and spending this election cycle are “effectively ending the post-Watergate era of campaign finance laws.”
To help understand what is shaping up as a watershed election cycle, I asked Briffault to explain the path that took the country from stringent post-Watergate contribution limits through Citizens United to today’s multi-billion-dollar free-for-all.
Briffault has written extensively about the history of campaign finance law. He has filed amicus briefs in cases on the side of defending regulation. His article on super PACs will be published in the Minnesota Law Review.
Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Can you explain how the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo case created the foundation of modern campaign finance law?
by Justin Elliott ProPublica, Oct. 4, 2012, 12:17 p.m.
A dark money nonprofit group that has run more than $1 million in ads in the Ohio race for U.S. Senate told the IRS last year it did not plan to spend any money to influence elections when it applied for recognition of its tax-exempt status.
ProPublica first reported on the group, the Government Integrity Fund, after information from television station political ad files became available online (see our Free the Files project), showing extensive spending by the Fund.
The group’s filings with the IRS illustrate how “social welfare” nonprofits, also known as 501(c)(4)s, are playing an aggressive role in this election, pouring tens of millions of dollars into races around the country, while taking advantage of the donor anonymity their tax status provides.
The Fund applied for IRS recognition last December and received the IRS’ approval less than two months later.
by Kim Barker and Justin Elliott ProPublica, Sept. 27, 2012, 4:32 p.m.
Dark money groups flooded Albuquerque’s airwaves in August, aiming to sway a hotly contested U.S. Senate race by making more than half the political ad buys on top TV stations.
That fact, gleaned through a review of TV station political ad records now available in our Free the Files news application, highlights the role that unlimited anonymous money is playing in this year’s election.
Our analysis of a month of ad orders in the Senate race between Republican Heather Wilson and Democrat Rep. Martin Heinrich is possible because of a new Federal Communications Commission rule requiring major-market affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC to upload political ad files to a government website.
In statements to ProPublica, the campaigns of Heinrich and Wilson blamed each other for relying on dark money.
ProPublica, Aug. 20, 2012, 11:38 a.m.
With the political conventions and the November election around the corner, we are taking a time-out to assess the state of campaign finance. As we reported last week, dark money nonprofits are outspending all super PACs combined in the presidential campaign thus far. How did we get here? A look at the landmark Citizens United decision and its impact on the 2012 campaign follows.
Suggest your best campaign finance reading and resources with #MuckReads on Twitter or in the comments below, and we’ll update this guide with the best.