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house Bill H.R. 6900

Should PACs be Required to Disclose Their Major Donors’ Identifying Information?

Argument in favor

The influence of so-called “dark money” in U.S. elections is significant and harmful to our democracy. Unmasking the wealthy donors who make political donations to PACs to influence elections is needed, especially in an increasingly partisan era.

burrkitty's Opinion
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11/18/2018
We need to get rid of dark money, Citizens United, corporate sponsors, and superPACs. Our representatives are supposed to be dependent on THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE ALONE. In the mean time, WE THE PEOPLE deserve to know who is buying our government.
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Josh's Opinion
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11/18/2018
If Citizens United is gonna be the law of the land, the least they can do is publicize all donations so we as voters can better make our decisions. This will further decimate the republican and Democrat establishment hold on our politics. Time for less partisanship and more work for the people.
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Bmarkis's Opinion
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11/18/2018
Until we disallow donations beyond the individual level then yes, we need more transparency in our campaign finance system.
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Argument opposed

The Supreme Court already ruled against forcing nonprofits — even political ones — to disclose their donors as it may have a chilling effect on free speech. Additionally, since PAC donations aren’t tax-deductible, donor information isn’t needed for the IRS to do its job as the U.S.’ tax authority.

Mark's Opinion
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11/19/2018
The devil is in the details. Your address would become public information! Want psychos stalking you? I don’t....
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Jesse's Opinion
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11/19/2018
I’m against any and all attempts by government to invade our personal privacy. This sounds good in theory but opens too many doors to the invasion of privacy...
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RyanGlaspell's Opinion
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11/19/2018
I think super PACs ruin politics. Money plays an ugly role in campaigns, and I hate it. With that said, this bill is designed to intimidate donors. I would love to abolish or restrict huge PACs, but this is not the bill to do so. People have a right to donate their money and hold anonymity, so long as it isn’t violating any laws. I want PACs hindered, but punishing donors isn’t the way to do it.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Ways and Means
    IntroducedSeptember 26th, 2018

What is House Bill H.R. 6900?

This bill — the Spotlight Act — would reverse a recent Treasury Department decision exempting 501(c)4 organizations from disclosing their donors’ names. It would amend the tax code to require 501(c) charitable organizations, including 501(c)4, (c)5, and (c)6 organizations, to include the names and addresses of donors who contribute $5,000 or more on their annual tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It’d also require these organizations to make their donors’ information available to the public.

Impact

Nonprofit donors; 501(c)4 charitable organizations; 501(c)5 charitable organizations; 501(c)6 charitable organizations; Treasury Department; Internal Revenue Service; and the tax code.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 6900

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. David Price (D-NC) introduced this bill to reverse the Treasury Department’s recent decision allowing politically active non-profit organizations to avoid disclosing certain donor information to the IRS, and to compel these organizations to disclose major donors’ names to the public:

“The Trump administration’s decision to allow politically active organizations to obscure millions in dark campaign money further weakens our already failing campaign finance system. At a time when our elections are plagued by unlimited corporate spending, anonymous donors, and illegal foreign meddling, this action provides a mask to special interests and bad actors  while diminishing the power of voters.”

In September 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court ruled that the state of California could collect information about major donors to 501(c)4 charitable organizations, including PACs. However, the Ninth Circuit’s ruling did not make this information public, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office would only make it public in “very limited circumstances.”

However, the Supreme Court has said that forcing charitable groups, even those involved in politics, to disclose their donors’ names could chill free speech. Ray Cordato, a resident scholar at the John Locke Foundation who has defended anonymous speech and anonymous donations as essential to avoiding harassment and retaliation and preserving free speech and political dialogue, concurs, arguing:

“It’s clear what the purpose of this [bill] is. It’s a way of scaring people into not giving money to certain kinds of organizations. The fact of the matter is this is the kind of thing that was used against Martin Luther King and civil rights organizations [by racists seeking the names of their contributors]. Now it is [by] the Left, and everyone knows now they are all about intimidation.”

When announcing the Treasury Department’s July 2018 decision to exempt 501(c)4 organizations from disclosing their donor information to the IRS, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin argued that the IRS doesn’t need these organizations’ donor information to do its job:

“Americans shouldn’t be required to send the IRS information that it doesn’t need to effectively enforce our tax laws, and the IRS simply does not need tax returns with donor names and addresses to do its job in this area. It is important to emphasize that this change will in no way limit transparency. The same information about tax-exempt organizations that was previously available to the public will continue to be available, while private taxpayer information will be better protected. The IRS’s new policy for certain tax-exempt organizations will make our tax system simpler and less susceptible to abuse.”

This bill has the support of 13 cosponsors, all of whom are Democrats. End Citizens UnitedCommon Cause, and Democracy 21 support this bill.


Of Note:  In July 2018, the Treasury Department that it would begin allowing politically active 501(c)4 charitable organizations to shield some donor information from the IRS. 501(c)3 charitable organizations, whose donors can claim tax deductions from their contributions, are still required to disclose information about their donors to the IRS. 501(c)4 groups, whose donors generally can’t claim tax deductions, are exempted from sending donor information to the IRS.

Those who favor requiring nonprofits that engage in political activity to disclose their donor information argue that a lack of disclosure allows anonymous donors to spend huge sums of unchecked money to rig the system in their own favor.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStock.com / D-Keine)

AKA

Spotlight Act

Official Title

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to require certain tax-exempt organizations to include on annual returns the names and addresses of substantial contributors, and for other purposes.

    We need to get rid of dark money, Citizens United, corporate sponsors, and superPACs. Our representatives are supposed to be dependent on THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE ALONE. In the mean time, WE THE PEOPLE deserve to know who is buying our government.
    Like (173)
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    The devil is in the details. Your address would become public information! Want psychos stalking you? I don’t....
    Like (20)
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    Share
    Transparency is paramount to democracy.
    Like (77)
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    If Citizens United is gonna be the law of the land, the least they can do is publicize all donations so we as voters can better make our decisions. This will further decimate the republican and Democrat establishment hold on our politics. Time for less partisanship and more work for the people.
    Like (72)
    Follow
    Share
    Until we disallow donations beyond the individual level then yes, we need more transparency in our campaign finance system.
    Like (62)
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    Yes. We, the taxpayers deserve to know who and what is supporting our politicians. We deserve to know if we are supporting a politician supported by drug manufacturers, gun manufacturers, and other such corporations and owners of corporations.
    Like (43)
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    I personally don’t feel there should be PAC’s. It just seems like the candidate is then beholden to the corporate donors And not the people who voted them in to represent.
    Like (39)
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    Why hide if you support something do it publicly.
    Like (34)
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    In a time where the US is taking huge strides backwards into a time where racial hate reigns and has an integral part in the GOP platform, transparency is now, more than ever, needed. In addition, our government needs to recognize that foreign governments have puppet strings tied to candidates to gain a footholds in what was sacred institutions. We are now in a time where ‘We, the people”, no longer have representation in Congress or the Senate. For the last 20 years, lobbyists and special interest groups have run rampant, buying votes. Therefore, lobbyists and special interest groups must be forbidden to donate or to gift our representatives ~ period. This bill would be the first step forward in Campaign Reform.
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    The obvious solution is for full disclosure by everyone and every entity, including non-profits; corporations, unions, and individuals. Nothing could be healthier for our political system than full transparency when it comes to financial contributions and advertising - it evens the playing field like nothing else would do. Voters have the right to know who is giving how much to whom, and who is buying advertising in the media in an effort to influence our decisions. These groups should also have to make public who their contributors are, and not hide behind some obscure name that means nothing to the average person. If everyone and every group has the same requirements, then there can be nothing unfair about full transparency.
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    H.R. 6900 AKA The Spotlight Act I’m in support of the passage of House bill H.R. 6900 AKA The Spotlight Act which would reverse a recent Treasury Department decision exempting 501(c)4 organizations from disclosing their donors’ names. It would amend the tax code to require 501(c) charitable organizations, including 501(c)4, (c)5, and (c)6 organizations, to include the names and addresses of donors who contribute $5,000 or more on their annual tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It’d also require these organizations to make their donors’ information available to the public. The influence of so-called “dark money” in U.S. elections is significant and harmful to our democracy. Unmasking the wealthy donors who make political donations to PACs to influence elections is needed, especially in an increasingly partisan era. SneakyPete..... 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻. 11*18*18.....
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    Hell yes. I’m disgusted that our politicians are for sale to anonymous bidders. Make every single political donation illegal. Not one cent to any politician, political party, PAC, entity, organization- no one. The only campaigning will be candidates platform printed in every newspaper, on a special government website, read out loud on every radio station, in print at every public library, high school, college. No tv ads, no radio ads. Ah, the bliss of hearing no robo calls spewing filthy lies about every opponent!
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    We need to be aware of who is supporting what! Buying votes should be controlled or done away completely!
    Like (12)
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    Transparency is information. Information is the root of democracy.
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    PACs should be illegal. No one should be able to buy politicians.
    Like (12)
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    If you’re proud enough to endorse a candidate with your gift of money, why not put your name to it? People deserve to have a right to know who is helping to fund who. It would help a lot of people know where an organization stands as well. If I like what one charity or org stands for and I see they endorse one candidate, I’m more inclined to support that candidate
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    Get money out of politics!
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    We cannot have “dark money” controlling our democracy anymore! We need to go back to We The People and ditch I The Corporation.
    Like (11)
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    Take the money out of elections. People aren’t stupid. The money behind pacs, is criminal, or should be.
    Like (11)
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    Secrecy is the friend of tyranny.
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