But in politics, it seems, there’s always a way to dodge the rules and obfuscate what’s really happening. This election, secrecy has been pushed to another level. Since the Citizens United decision came down, nonprofit groups have formed to back candidates. And unlike the super PACs, the nonprofits are not required to report who their donors are. That’s because these groups are theoretically focused on “social welfare,” not politics. It’s a highly cynical and dubious claim in many cases, but it’s working. The Internal Revenue Service is supposed to police whether these groups are actually concentrating on “social welfare,” but that’s not happening — not now, maybe not ever — because the IRS is paralyzed by budget cuts, missteps in its previous efforts to oversee these groups and related political controversies.
One candidate in particular who’s gotten a secret boost is U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has benefitted from millions spent by a nonprofit, the Conservative Solutions Project, on ads pushing him for the White House. The group is spending as fast as it can to get Rubio in office. But no one knows who is supplying the cash.
This was exactly the sort of scenario that was predicted six years ago when the U.S. Supreme Court voted to allow corporations to spend money to get candidates elected. That included certain nonprofit corporations.
No, corporations still aren’t permitted to give a donation to a candidate. But they can spend heavily to benefit a candidate, and indeed they do. They can still call the tune as to who’s a viable candidate and who isn’t. And they can do it all without you knowing who’s providing that cash, and whose agenda is propelling that candidate.
Is that really what the Founding Fathers had in mind?