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PAC vs Dark Money a primer...

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posted on Nov, 26 2015 @ 02:07 PM
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I found a wonderful and straightforward primer on the similarities and differences between PAC (Political Action Committees) and Dark Money (401c (4)) campaign funding and how the two are used in tandem to hide political contributions.

www.truth-out.org...

I wanted to share this because it has always confused me and I tended to think of them as the same when they are not. Campaign finance 'jargon' like any 'jargon' is used to keep the uninitiated 'out' of the 'kewl kids' club.

Enjoy and have a happy 'Eat until you Die' Day.


Here are some of the key characteristics of unlimited money from super PACs, also referred to as "independent expenditure groups."

No limit on the dollar amount of contributions
Do disclose donors
Cannot coordinate with or donate money to candidates
Federal Election Commission has jurisdiction over these organizations
In election years, file reports on donors either monthly or quarterly, as well as reports on independent expenditures within either 24 or 48 hours (based upon the date and amount of the expenditure); in nonelection years, file reports on donors monthly or semi-annually, as well as reports on independent expenditures within either 24 or 48 hours (based upon the date and amount of the expenditure)



Now, let's turn to dark money. When we use the term "dark money," we mean money coming from 501(c) organizations, named after their identification in the tax code. These include social welfare groups, unions and trade organizations registered with the IRS. Recently, the focus has been on 501(c)(4) social welfare groups, since the Citizens United ruling empowered these nonprofits in particular to participate in politicking much more actively. (Here's a great rundown of 501(c)(4) groups from our friends at OpenSecrets.org if you want greater detail.) Some characteristics of these groups:

No limit on the dollar amount of contributions

Do NOT have to disclose their donors

Cannot coordinate with or donate money to candidates

IRS has jurisdiction over these organizations

May participate in nonpartisan political activity providing a "majority" of their activity go to "social welfare" activities. (It's widely accepted that this means at least 50.1 percent of their efforts must go toward social welfare activities, which are broadly defined by the IRS.)

Report their spending through 990 IRS tax forms, which are typically delayed by a year or more and often long after the elections have ended; 990s often show major vendors these nonprofit hire and what groups they give money to, but are not obligated to say what the money purchased with any specificity. (However, 501(c) groups must report independent expenditures to the FEC as well.)

Campaign donations are sometimes funneled through these organizations to super PACs to mask donors.




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