As the 2012 election season heats up, outside advocacy groups are experiencing considerable influence over federal, state, and local elections. Some say that the collective influence of advocacy by Super PACs and other tax-exempt entities in favor of and against candidates is equal to, or exceeds, that of the candidates and the parties themselves.
In this context, timely news was made yesterday when a federal appeals court reversed a previous decision in an action brought by Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) against the Federal Election Commission to reaffirm that certain types of tax-exempt organizations are not required to disclose their donors unless their contribution was specifically earmarked for campaigning purposes. This is a significant development for individuals, corporations, and other groups contemplating increased political and issue advocacy this fall.
With the court’s reversal this week, it remains to be seen whether or not this will be the last word. As was recently discussed in a San Diego news piece I was pleased to be a part of, the impact of these groups on elections is significant and extends beyond federal races.
We will continue to follow this topic closely.