New Koch-Backed Bill That Could Further Disguise Campaign Donations Is Making Its Way Through Congress

This new bill would ban the IRS from collecting names of donors for tax-exempt groups, possibly allowing foreign contributions, and it's backed by the Koch brothers.

Credit: PBS

Credit: PBS

It’s in the interests of Congress to pass a bill that further darkens the money donated to political campaigns, and that’s exactly what they’re doing right now.

The bill, which is backed by the Koch Brothers, just passed the House’s tax-writing committee and it bans the IRS from collecting the names of donors to tax-exempt groups.

Although the IRS themselves don’t do anything with these names, “by and large, seems to be used by people or activists groups to get lists together to target and intimidate people, and that’s completely inappropriate,” said Mark Holden, Koch Industries executive and Freedom Partners chairman.

Holden also said that donors have the right to “anonymous free speech,” and by giving money to tax-exempt groups that support certain candidates or issues these donors supposedly are exercising their right to free speech.

Proponents for the bill, such as Representative Peter Roskam, the bill’s sponsor, say that,

“Tax-exempt groups should not be forced to expend precious resources on unnecessary documentation and tax administration rather than focusing on their charitable missions.”

Credit: House GOP

Credit: House GOP

It could be argued that the groups would be collecting the names anyways for their own purposes, such as to reach out for future donations.

Fred Wertheimer, president of watchdog group Democracy 21, added,

“What the House Republicans on the committee are doing is taking a major campaign-finance problem and making it worse.”

A major concern for opponents of the bill is that this would allow campaign contributions from foreign contributors, which is illegal. Providing the names of donors to the IRS is a way of preventing foreign investors from essentially buying elections and candidates.

It also prevents corporations and big donors from donating even more undisclosed amounts because both the groups and the candidates will know that no one is watching.

Though the Koch Brothers and others who support the bill are afraid of their free speech being infringed upon, voters and citizens have the right to know whose pockets the candidates hands are in. It may be used against them, but it keeps candidates accountable.

Wertheimer further argued, “You are eliminating any ability to hold nonprofits accountable.”

Bills like these are the ones that questionable politicians attempt to sneak through Congress, but American citizens are becoming more attentive to these seemingly small moves as many have begun to question the legality and fairness of Citizens United.

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