Friday, May 24, 2013

6 things you should know about the IRS scandal

This ad was paid for by a "social welfare nonprofit."

Social welfare nonprofits at the center of the controversy over the IRS's targeting of Tea Party groups have another name. They're also called dark money groups because they don’t have to disclose the donors who spent more than $256 million into the 2012 federal elections.

ProPublica, the nonprofit public-interest news outlet, reminds us of six important facts lost in the controversy. We thought we'd share them with you:
  1. Social welfare nonprofits are supposed to have social welfare, and not politics, as their “primary” purpose.
  2. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision meant that corporations could pay for political ads, anonymously, using social welfare nonprofits.
  3. Social welfare nonprofits do not actually have to apply to the IRS for recognition as tax-exempt organizations. (See Stephen Colbert on that point.)
  4. Most -- about 80 percent -- of the money spent on elections by social welfare nonprofits supports Republicans.
  5. Some social welfare groups promised in their applications, under penalty of perjury, that they wouldn’t get involved in elections. Then they did just that.
  6. Donors to social welfare nonprofits are anonymous for a reason. It's because Alabama tried to force the NAACP to disclose its donors during the Civil Rights struggles in the 1950s. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1958 ruled the NAACP's donors could remain secret because disclosure would risk reprisal and threats.