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The Power Of Invisible Money In Campaigns

Monday, Sep. 20, 2010

According to the IRS, in order to be issued a 501 (c) (3) designation, an organization must be organized and operated for "exempt" purposes, and may not engage in political activities.

But few members of the public are aware of another section of the IRS code that allows advocacy committees to engage in political campaigns -- and avoid the transparency required by other contribution rules. Most of the money goes to federal elections, often for "opposition" ads.

According to The New York Times, if an organization is a 501 (c) (4) it can collect an unlimited amount of money from corporations and spend that war chest without revealing the source of the donations.

The result is a dramatic drop in the number of independent groups reporting the source of their contributions.

Money influences the outcome of elections. The task ahead is  to convince Congress to change the rules to make donors visible and campaigns and candidates accountable.

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