Challenging the Super PAC’s


The war against secret corporate money in elections moved to a new front as two campaign finance reform groups called on the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether these groups, organized as nonprofits, are eligible for the tax exempt status they currently claim.

The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 told the IRS that the primary purpose of a 501(c)(4) organization such as Crossroads GPS, Priorities USA, American Action Network and Americans Elect is not social welfare but rather political spending.

Nonprofit 501(c)(4) organizations have emerged as popular fundraising vehicles because unlike traditional 527 political organizations, 501(c)(4) groups can shield donor identities and still participate in campaign activity, so long as it is not the organization’s primary purpose. By claiming the tax-exempt 501(c)(4) status groups allow their donors to evade traditional public disclosure requirements associated with campaign contributions despite engaging in no social welfare activities.

Court decisions interpreting the IRS regulations have established that 501(c)(4) groups cannot “engage in more than an insubstantial amount of any non-social welfare activity” which has translated into a practice where 501(c)(4) groups spend up to 49 percent of total expenditures on campaign activities.

Simply put, if a group’s de facto primary purpose is to promote the election of candidates, it cannot be organized as a 501(c)(4). If we want free, fair and clean elections, those abusing and avoiding disclosure requirements must be punished and their tax exempt status revoked.


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Photo from Tracey O via flickr.

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Jane H.
Jane H.3 years ago

Can you imagine Obama winning, and Dems winning the House and Senate having been outspent by the Repugnicans??? At this date 9/29, I can! Imagine that!!

Marianna B M.


Debra G.
Debra D.4 years ago

How can we call ourselves a democracy when elections are essentially sold to the highest bidder. When a politician accepts large donations from wealthy industrialists, coal and oil magnatesm, it is a conflict of interest. You know when this happens, they are no longer working for the benefit of their consituants, only for the rich.

Lynn C.
Lynn C.4 years ago

@ Tamara H. I agree!

Marie W.
Marie W.4 years ago

Money in politics is out of control.

Sharon H.
Sharon H.4 years ago a way, I hope that happens sooner than later because it will show all of these smug A-holes here that they will not be culled from the herd, but sent to the slaughter house with the rest of us.

Ralph B.
Ralph B.4 years ago

Can't we get this reform on the Ballot and stop this Rich over running America ? Even the Foreign countries are Laughing as they send Huge amounts to the People that will destroy America....

Linda T.
Linda T.4 years ago

Happy to hear that someone is asking for an investigation but really doubt it will go anywhere.
We need to get corperations out of the game of electing our Representation all together and from what I've read about these political 501 (c) (3)'s they have other agendas such as funding rightwing think tanks.

Let's make a constitutional amendment that gets all money interest out of our politics.

Ellen G.
Ellen G.4 years ago

We need to get rid of all of these organizations. They are all out to screw the poor, disabled and middle class. Let the people decide who is going to be elected. Until then only the wealthy can be elected and they don't know what the majority of Americans want and need. They can't even imagine what it is like! While we are at it we need to put term limits on those Supreme Court justices. At least make it possible for the citizens of this country to vote to dismiss them. Perhaps they won't be bought and corrupted so easily.

pam w.
pam w.4 years ago