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Major Campaign Finance Loophole Closed…For Now

Major Campaign Finance Loophole Closed…For Now

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit turned down a request to stay an April ruling that struck down a Federal Election Commission regulation that allowed donors to certain nonprofit groups to evade normal campaign spending disclosure requirements. That means that one of the most significant campaign finance loopholes affecting the 2012 race is now closed and Karl Rove and others may suddenly have to disclose donors funding anonymous campaign ads.

“This case represents the first major breakthrough in the effort to restore for the public the disclosure of contributors who are secretly providing massive amounts to influence federal elections,” said Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer, one of the lawyers who filed the original lawsuit that led to the April decision, in a statement.

As of the decision, any group with donors giving more than $1000 have an obligation to disclose those donors. But that doesn’t mean things will change immediately. There’s a good chance the stay request will end up before the Supreme Court where Chief Justice John Roberts and the conservative majority have shown deep sympathies to those arguing that disclosing political donations has a chilling effect on speech rights.

In the appellate court ruling, the judges issuing the majority opinion were scathing in their denial, saying the parties had failed to make a strong showing that they would win their appeal on the merits or that they would be irreparably injured absent a stay. Noting the requirement for non-disclosure established in the Citizens United the court wrote: “Intervenors provided no evidence that their contributors ‘would face threats, harassment, or reprisals if their names were disclosed,’… and thus they fail to demonstrate how the disclosure requirements ‘prevent [them] from speaking.’”

At any rate, for now groups wishing to create and fund electioneering communications face two choices: disclose and make sure their actions are in accord with the lower court ruling until some higher authority like the Supreme Court speaks, or continue to flout the law and wait and see what, if any, consequences come of it.

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Photo from bfishadow via flickr.

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9:17PM PDT on May 16, 2012

How does Bill Maher get away with donating one million dollars? Where's the law stopping that SUPER Donation?

8:45PM PDT on May 16, 2012

This is a good deal- Now Democrat Party bankrollers such as unions and marxists/communists/anarchists will be revealed as well!
Very good!
A question for all you marxist/soclialists/wealthy haters out there: Guess who contributed tons of cash to the "chosen one" in 2009? Why it was Wallstreet and the filthy wealthy gave heavily to the ender of the partizan divide and the healer of partizan politics OH and unions of course that espose violence against any one that does not agree with them- Contrast them with Carl Rove and the Tea Party- You don't hear them esposing violence for political gain!
Hello the Occupy Movement!

8:10PM PDT on May 16, 2012

A step in the right direction--finally!

3:35PM PDT on May 16, 2012

The ultra rich seems to think all the rest of humanity is for their personal benefit.
They are deprived of seeing the rest of us....and then don't understand why the rest of us are angry at them. they leave a building..get int a nice car and get driven to their plane which carry's them to where they have to go. No public buses, planes, etc. They eat in private clubs and restaurants with the same type of people. (1%) they have the same 'let them eat cake' syndrome.
Their life style helps keep the poor and needy away from their lives. 'out of sight..out of mind'.

2:05PM PDT on May 16, 2012

What are the procedures in place to enforce this disclosure ruling? Is it worthwhile to some organizations to flout the ruling and risk court time, to secretly finance candidates who are vital to their interests?

1:25PM PDT on May 16, 2012

One step forward in the right direction...

11:07AM PDT on May 16, 2012

Keep money out of politics

9:19AM PDT on May 16, 2012

Good news, but things have not changed yet. Some Candidates would not like people to know that they are being backed by Chinese or Saudi's.
However, the American people would like to know who these political "sugar daddies" are.

8:44AM PDT on May 16, 2012

a small step in the right direction! thanks for article.

7:59AM PDT on May 16, 2012

Glad to see Rove and his donors will be forced to disclose their names along with their donations. No one should be able to funnel cash into campaigns without it being disclosed. I hope the IRS doesn't grant him a tax free status either. Everything Rove does is political, regardless what he says.

If I were in charge of campaign finance reform I would ban lobbyists from being able to donate a dime to an individual. All monies corporations wish to donate would be divided equally into 3 parties - Republican, Democratic and Independent. This way we could form a real third party and no one could influence anyone to vote one way or another. Also, the money being spent in campaigns is a complete waste. TV time for 3 or 4 debates paid for by the taxpayers would be plenty. Instead of negative commercials, the candidate would have to sell themselves and their ideas.

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