Americans concerned about the sinister impact of dark money in politics suffered a major defeat in Washington this week.
The tactic of using nonprofit structures to funnel money into the political arena has an established history among Democrats and Republicans alike. Under the stripped-down guidelines, powerful lobby groups in Washington such as the National Rifle Association and the Chamber of Commerce no longer have to tell the IRS who is supplying them with fresh cash every year.
The Trump administration has now eliminated the rule mandating that 501(c)(4) organizations include the names of donors on tax forms, The New York Times reported July 17. “The IRS simply does not need tax returns with donor names and addresses to do its job,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker, said Monday.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) celebrated the move the same day, saying on the floor of the Senate chamber, “It’s particularly welcome news to those of us who are intently focused on defending the First Amendment, for those of us who raised concerns during the last administration about activist regulators punishing free speech and free association.”
The biggest winners? Billionaire donors like the Koch Brothers and George Soros, who originated groups like Americans For Prosperity and the Open Society Policy Center, respectively, as 501(c)(4) groups. According to a Washington Free Beacon report from 2017, OSPC has hired lobbyists to influence bills such as the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 and the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Appropriations Act of 2017. Previously, Soros-funded lobbyists sought to gain influence in White House, Treasury Department, Pentagon and Office of Management and Budget policy, the Beacon report indicates.