501(c) (6) nonprofits and the need for transparency / by kevin murray

Not all nonprofits are built the same, though the cursory belief is that anything that is designated as a nonprofit sounds like a community good, because it is believed that those that are involved in a nonprofit ostensibly must be doing so for the greater good. However, not all that glitters is gold and not all nonprofits are actually good, in fact, some of them are a real menace to democracy and fairness.


In point of fact, though the 501(c) (6) is a nonprofit, it is per new IRS regulations, in many cases, not subject to the reporting of their donor names and addresses, which was formerly done through IRS Form 990.  Of course, when it comes to the tax code, the IRS, and lawyers, it is never as clear as a new regulation may make it out to be, but the bottom line is that when a 501(c) (6) is able to successfully hide the names of its donors, and the amounts of those donations that these organizations have so received, and subsequently are able to utilize such in political contests, amendments, and propositions in which the money so being donated to those things, is coming not from a given individual, specifically named, nor limited to a specific dollar amount, but have come from a 501(c) (6) nonprofit, instead, than that money so utilized is clearly a form of "dark money".


Further to the point, money influences all sorts of things, and those with the most money are on the inside track of successfully putting through their agenda as compared to those others, that are monetarily outgunned.  Additionally, many 501(c) (6) nonprofits have innocuous names, along with the fact that they are designated as nonprofits, which allows these organizations to take on the aura of being a concerned institution, merely performing their civic duty as they see it, and as authorized by law.


The only possible way to even out the playing field is for all 501(c) (6) nonprofits that are contributing funds to elections, amendments, and propositions, to have publically disclosed in real time, the actual names of those that are donating these funds, visible for the public perusal.  Additionally, those nonprofits that pretend to be one thing when in actuality they are something else, should have their nonprofit status revoked, and should be effectively dissolved.


When it comes to influence in politics, amendments, and propositions, the amount of money put into play makes an important and material difference to the results so rendered, and when that money is influencing greatly the result of local and civic events, of which that money is not local to the community, though the nonprofit so created is; that seems to be wholly unfair to the community at large.


In all fairness, community concerns, that are taken up for a vote or debate, should be limited to those that are part and parcel of that community, of which each person eligible to vote, should have that one vote; whereas nonprofits that have taken on the guise of being part of that community, but are funded by those agents which clearly are not, have no legitimate place in the public and fully disclosed square.