Category: Outside Groups

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FEC Unveils Website, Debates Super PAC and State Party Restrictions

The Federal Election Commission endured a four hour session on Thursday, October 29. Among the topics discussed were a resolution for the Repledge advisory opinion request, a request from Senate Majority PAC and House Majority PAC seeking to clarify the legal limits of would-be candidates and Super PACs during the testing the waters period, and … Continue Reading

The Van Hollen Case and the FEC’s Power

One way of looking at a case like Van Hollen v. FEC is to evaluate its result. Did the decision promote anti-corruption goals, or impede them? Reform proponents have celebrated the result in Van Hollen, which vacated a 2007 rule that allowed corporations and unions to narrow their disclosure when sponsoring” electioneering communications”— issue ads … Continue Reading

In Independence Institute, a Pro-Disclosure Decision—But With No Disclosure to Follow

It was hardly surprising that the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, in Independence Institute v. FEC, would reject a challenge to McCain-Feingold’s disclosure requirements for “electioneering communications.” These are television or radio ads, sponsored by unregistered groups, that refer to candidates before the voters during the thirty or sixty days before the … Continue Reading

No Satisfaction – Or At Least Mixed Emotions – With the D.C. Circuit in Stop This Insanity

Besides choosing the wrong Rolling Stones song to quote in a campaign finance opinion – “Salt of the Earth” from Beggars Banquet would have been better, with its references to “stay at home voters” and “gray suited grafters” – there was a lot that the D.C. Circuit got wrong in Stop This Insanity Inc. Employee … Continue Reading

FEC Crossroads Deadlock, Ohio False Advertising Case Raise IRS, FCC Issues

Friday saw two big developments in the field of election law: the Federal Election Commission’s release of dueling statements of reasons over whether Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies might be a federal political committee, and the Supreme Court’s decision to take up a challenge to Ohio’s ban on false statements in political campaigns.  Each, obviously, involves the tension between regulation and … Continue Reading

New IRS Proposed Rules Regarding Section 501(c)(4) Political Spending

On Tuesday, the Internal Revenue Service released a notice of proposed rulemaking that aims to provide guidance to section 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations regarding what activities count as “political” and therefore not considered to promote social welfare.  The IRS and the Treasury Department are responding to criticisms that the guidance now available is inadequate and, … Continue Reading

Super PAC FEC Reports Beg the Question—Who Else Will Spend in 2014?

The July 31 deadline for filing Federal Election Commission reports brought media stories that compared the fundraising totals of Democratic and Republican super PACs, much like the stories that compare the candidates’ financial situation at the end of each fundraising quarter.  But while significant to some degree, these stories are incomplete, in much the same … Continue Reading

High Court Ruling Spells Trouble for 501(c)(3) Restrictions

Yesterday, the Supreme Court released its opinion in Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International, Inc.  The Court’s opinion in AID v. Alliance spells trouble for the Internal Revenue Service’s longstanding position that a section 501(c)(3) organization is not merely barred from using tax-deductible funds to engage in campaign intervention, but must not … Continue Reading

A Primer on the Disclosure Rules in Federal Elections

In his opinion in Citizens United striking down the ban on corporate independent expenditures, Justice Kennedy anticipated a “campaign finance system that pairs corporate independent expenditures with effective disclosure,” thereby “enabl[ing] the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.”  Yet the current law’s disclosure system was not created … Continue Reading

Can ‘Bright Lines’ Improve IRS Performance on Political Activity?

In the wake of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA)’s report on the Internal Revenue Service, there will be much discussion of where the system for reviewing tax-exempt applications went awry. The IRS’s actions, and the TIGTA report, raise key questions about IRS transparency. Any reforms should include a dramatic improvement in the … Continue Reading