• TAKE ACTION: Stop Dark Money and Protect the League

    UPDATE: Please note that the action period for these comments is now closed.

  • LEAGUE CALLS ON IRS TO STOP “DARK MONEY”

    Protection for Truly Nonpartisan Voter Service Essential

    Washington, DC – Today, the League of Women Voters of the United States submitted comments to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on their Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for 501(c)(4) organizations. League President Elisabeth MacNamara urged the IRS to “keep pushing to stop the secret ‘dark money’ that has been polluting our elections since Citizens United, while at the same time protecting truly nonpartisan work to provide the public with unbiased voter information.”

    “The League is commenting on the proposed new IRS rule for two critical reasons,” said MacNamara. “The health of our democracy demands that we rein in the secret ‘dark money’ election spending unleashed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. The IRS proposal is a step in the right direction,” she said. “At the same time, any new regulations must continue to allow truly nonpartisan voter service activities by groups like the League,” according to MacNamara.

    “Since Citizens United, our nation has seen a huge explosion in the sums of money being raised and spent by 501(c)(4) organizations – social welfare organizations – to elect or defeat candidates for public office,” said MacNamara. “This practice is not only contrary to the law regulating how much political activity is allowed by these organizations, but it is done in the dark. The money is not disclosed to the public, which leaves voters unable to judge the credibility and motivation of the advertising and campaigning by these groups.”

    “Reforming IRS regulations is our best opportunity to stem the tide of secret cash,” MacNamara said. “The IRS can halt the abuse in its tracks by stopping 501(c)(4) organizations from spending on ‘candidate-related political activity.’ The League urges the IRS to move as soon as possible with a rigorous and clear definition of ‘candidate-related political activity’ which would be barred for (c)(4) organizations,” she said.

    “However, the new IRS proposal is too broad, because it would undermine truly nonpartisan voter service activities like those carried out by the League,” MacNamara said. “We urge the IRS to use the standards currently applied to (c)(3) organizations governing nonpartisan election activities and apply them to (c)(4) organizations as well,” she said.

    “With nearly 800 local and 50 state Leagues, we conduct truly nonpartisan debates, publish unbiased voter guides, register voters of all political persuasions, and work actively in communities across the nation to encourage all citizens to vote,” MacNamara said. “In fact, in many communities, the Leagues’ voter information is the only truly nonpartisan information available to the public. Unbiased and nonpartisan voter service activities deliver tremendous value to voters, potential voters and our democracy. Thus we believe that truly nonpartisan voter service and voter education activities by a 501(c)(4) organization must be clearly and explicitly allowed,” she said.

    “The League commends the IRS for addressing the dark money issue. They must fix that problem while protecting truly nonpartisan voter service and voter education activities. Though the IRS has been attacked from both sides of the political spectrum, we urge the IRS to do what is right,” MacNamara concluded.

    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org

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    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

  • Last week, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking geared at curbing the abuse of 501(c)(4) non-profit organizations for partisan political activities.

    The League sees this proposal as a major step in the fight against secret money unleashed into our political system following the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United.

  • NEW IRS PROPOSAL FOR TAX EXEMPT GROUPS

    “IMPORTANT FIRST STEP AGAINST ABUSE” SAYS LEAGUE

    Washington, DC – The League of Women Voters of the U.S. today spoke out in support of the new notice of proposed rulemaking for non-profit, 501(c)(4) organizations announced last week by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

    “We could not be more thrilled that the IRS is taking this first important step in curbing the abuse of non-profit, 501(c)(4) organizations for partisan political activity,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, national president of the League.

    “Since the Citizens United case, we have seen (c)(4) non-profits used to funnel millions of dollars of secret money into candidate elections, and this threatens the integrity of our elections and government decision-making,” she said.

    “New IRS regulations covering non-profit organizations are one of the most important reforms that can be taken under current law to overcome the effects of Citizens United,” MacNamara continued.

    Some have suggested that the new proposal goes too far by including voter registration and voter guides under the definition of candidate-related political activity which would be controlled under the proposal governing 501(c)(4) organizations. “This IRS action is about dark, secret money in America’s elections plain and simple,” MacNamara said. “Unlike some opponents of such reforms, the League thinks the concern about truly nonpartisan activity is overblown,” she continued.

    “It is important to remember this is just a proposal – a good one, but still just a proposal, and an incomplete one as well,” MacNamara said. The League will be reviewing it closely and submitting comments to ensure that true nonpartisan election information activities for the appropriate 501(c) organizations are protected.

    The IRS notice of proposed rulemaking is a request for comments on key issues as the IRS considers a new set of rules governing 501(c)(4) organizations and is not a complete new set of proposed rules. In addition to asking for comments on its proposed new definition of “candidate-related political activity,” the IRS is seeking comment on whether similar rules should be extended to business and labor associations under sections 501(c)(6) and (5), how much “candidate-related political activity” should be allowed for a (c)(4) organization, and how best to deal with truly nonpartisan and unbiased voter information activities by such organizations.

    “We are very pleased that the Administration has finally stepped up to the plate on this,” MacNamara said. “The critical question is whether the IRS will continue and will ultimately adopt strong reform regulations. There will be an outcry, but the IRS must persevere and stop the abuses we are seeing with secret campaign money,” MacNamara concluded.

    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, kceballos@lwv.org, 202-263-1331

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    Like” the League on Facebook.   Follow us on Twitter: @LWV.

    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.