Should political non-profits be forced to disclose donors? | The Tylt

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The Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision ordering non-profits to disclose donors who have contributed over $200 annually to ad campaigns. Proponents of the decision say it will provide the public with much needed information going into elections, letting them know who is lobbying for specific issues. Opponents feel that forcing anonymous donors to be made public will discourage donations and stifle free speech. What do you think?

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Should political non-profits be forced to disclose donors?
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The ruling marks a temporary end to a several-years-long battle over the rights of donors to remain anonymous when giving to political non-profits. After the Citizens United ruling, people were allowed to give unlimited secret donations to organizations designated 501(c)(4), "social welfare", and 501(c)(6), "business league." These secret donations are known as "dark money." Per The Center for Public Integrity:

The sources behind most of the money raised by politicians and political groups are publicly disclosed. Candidates, parties and political action committees — including the super PACs that are allowed to accept unlimited amounts of money — all report the names of their donors to the Federal Election Commission on a regular basis. Or, to be technical, they regularly disclose the names of all their donors who each give more than $200. But when the source of political money isn't known, that's dark money.

A group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), challenged these dark money donations, requesting that the FEC investigate donors to Crossroads GPS, a conservative non-profit with ties to Karl Rove. In 2016, the FEC deadlocked 3-3 on whether to move forward with an investigation. In response, CREW sued the FEC. A circuit court ruled in CREW's favor, ordering Crossroads GPS to disclose all donors who have given more than $200 annually. Crossroads GPS then asked the Supreme Court for a stay, saying the ruling placed an undue burden on them and their donors mere weeks before the midterm elections. 

Initially, Chief Justice John Roberts granted the stay, releasing Crossroads GPS from its obligation to report on its donor base. The rest of the court, however, overturned Roberts and lifted the stay. 

NPR reports:

The ruling closes, at least for now, a loophole that has allowed wealthy donors to finance aggressive ads while staying anonymous. Crafted by the Federal Election Commission nearly 40 years ago, the loophole flourished after the 2010 Citizens United ruling.
...The disclosure requirement is expected to apply to explicitly political ads by nonprofit groups for the remaining weeks of the campaign season.
..."Opaque organizations are using contributions from opaque donors and secretly funding election campaigns and ads that are urging viewers to vote for or against candidates," said Michael Beckel, research manager at Issue One. "And it remains very difficult to track back the true sources of dark money groups."

The Atlantic explains though that the ruling does not completely end allowances for dark money donations.

The high court’s action is tempered by two considerations. The decision appears to leave a loophole: Some super pacs, which must disclose their donors publicly, accept money from nonprofit groups. Conceivably, a super pac could take money from a nonprofit group that doesn’t itself advocate for or against political candidates—meaning the super pac could continue hiding the flesh-and-blood source of the cash funding its efforts, several election lawyers told the Center for Public Integrity. Also, the original case that prompted today’s action, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. Federal Election Commission and Crossroads GPS, remains under appeal, meaning today’s decision could be temporary—or not.
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Proponents of "dark money" donations were quick to condemn the ruling, saying that forcing donations to be public would hamper people's rights to free speech. Per The Atlantic

Others believe voters will wind up with less information before they cast their ballot in November. David Keating, the president of the Institute for Free Speech, which supports the deregulation of campaign finance, said the decision will almost certainly throw a wet blanket on independent expenditures from now to the November 6 midterm elections.
“We think that’s a real prospect—that a number of groups are going to choose silence rather than speech—and there are good reasons why they would do that,” Keating said. “Certainly not all but most of these groups may come to the conclusion this is too risky: ‘Our donors gave us money under the assumption they would remain confidential, and we don’t want to do things that would make them not give us money anymore.’”
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FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, celebrated the ruling. 

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Weintraub was joined in her sentiments by Noah Bookbinder, the Executive Director of CREW.

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Not all FEC members agreed with Weintraub's assessment of the ruling.

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Crossroads GPS maintained that forcing the group to publicize its donors would be doing a disservice to citizens.

In their emergency application asking the Supreme Court to step in, lawyers for Crossroads GPS urged the justice to let the regulation stand, writing that “there is no compelling reason to hastily throw the clear reporting standards it provides to donors and speakers into confusion just prior to a national election — thereby chilling core First Amendment speech and association.”
FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Should political non-profits be forced to disclose donors?
#ProtectPrivateMoney
A festive crown for the winner
#MoreTransparency