On a conference call with reporters yesterday, Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate announced the party was filing a compliant with the state Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections in the state, and forwarding a copy of the compliant to the Internal Revenue Service attacking the nonprofit status of Americans For Prosperity after recent comments Koch made in a Florida paper.
“These organizations are a farce,” said Tate, referring to AFP’s 501(c)(3) status, as well as that of a state level conservative organization the MacIver Institute. “This designation allows an organization to accept tax-deductible contributions and further provides that they are not required to disclose their donors, nor are they required to report their spending until after an election has taken place.”
He added: “But to maintain this status, a 501(c)(3) is prohibited from engaging in ‘activities which constitute participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate.’”
Admittedly having AFP’s tax-exempt status is a tough road to climb, but as Tate made clear, the fight is also about the principle.
“While there may seem to be no real rules in Wisconsin politics or federally anymore, we think this is such an affront to the Wisconsin standard of open and clean government that we must take a stand here, and this is worthy of investigating.”
Tate added: “If we don’t consistently fight back as more billionaires try to buy our elections, this will become a matter of fact thing. and I’m a little disappointed that all of you in the media are just shrugging your shoulders and accepting this.”
Tate’s last point is especially important. David Koch is notoriously shy of the spotlight, yet here he is openly admitting and practically bragging about the “investment” he’s making into Gov. Walker through AFP. It’s gotten to the point where wealthy donors are not even trying any more to be discreet in their efforts to buy off democracy. If we just accept that the deck is stacked and the battle to have individuals as equally represented in Congress as corporations is hopeless well, then, our democracy really is doomed. But if after everything they’ve already fought for, Wisconsin Democrats are willing to lead the charge against this kind of money in our electoral process, then we at least owe it to them to help.
Photo from WisPolitics.com via flickr.