CREW Sends Letter to President Obama Supporting Executive Order Requiring Transparancy of Campaign Finance

If you've been following the news, you've probably heard about the President's executive order drafted April 13, which would require full disclosure of campaign donations made by business entities seeking government contracts. Needless to say the Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove are highly agitated over this. On May 4th, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) -with the support of over 30 other progressive organizations- sent a letter to President Obama endorsing the executive order.

SEE THE LETTER HERE:

Politico: IRS gift tax move could hit new anonymous groups

May 10, 2011- The Internal Revenue Service appears to have begun to enforce a tax on gifts to the non-profit organizations that were a key vehicle for anonymous politics in the last five years and had promised to play a large role in the presidential cycle, a move which could reshape the place of money in politics in 2012.

"It appears that the IRS Estate and Gift Tax team has also started paying attention to 501(c)(4) organizations," a Los Angeles tax lawyer who has followed the issue closely, Ofer Lion, wrote in a memo to clients today.

Gifts to other political organizations are not taxable under federal law, and lawyers informally say many donors do not typically pay the gift tax -- which may run as high as 35%, mirroring income tax rates -- for contributions to 501(c)4s.

The IRS focus would only apply to quite large donors: the first $13,000 annually are exempt. The rest of the contributions, however, reduce a donor's lifetime tax exemption, which stands currently at $5 million but stands to drop to $1 million in 2013, a fact which would mean a donor's heirs lose substantially more to estate taxes, including potentially a "clawback" of money that's already been given away back into the taxable estate.

CAW PRESS RELEASE: Advocacy Orgs Urge Obama to Sign Disclosure Exec. Order This Week

Defy Chamber, McConnell and Others Working to Undermine Campaign Finance Reform

Powerful Tool to Make Political Spending by Corporations Public

WASHINGTON, May 9, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In light of reports that President Obama may sign an executive orderin the face of dogged opposition, requiring disclosure of donations by those who seek contracts with the federal government, Kevin Zeese, an attorney with CampaignAccountabilityWatch.org (CAW) released the following statement:

"President Obama has the opportunity to greatly minimize the impact of money on the corruption of politics by taking two actions. First, sign the executive order requiring disclosure of political donations by people who receive contracts from the federal government.  Second, enforce existing campaign finance and tax laws so that non-profit organizations are not illegally used to hide the identity of large individual and corporate donors. A tax and campaign finance enforcement investigation of the misuse of non-profits in the 2010 election will show donors they risk prosecution for evading federal campaign finance laws as do the people working with non-profits who do so. Transparency is a powerful antidote to corruption."

CAW believes that the President should ignore the hypocritical opposition by the Chamber of Commerce and the GOP Senators led by Mitch McConnell, whose goals are to only undermine campaign finance reform and FEC oversight.  

CAW is a coalition by advocacy groups dedicated to fair and transparent elections representing over a million members.

SOURCE CampaignAccountabilityWatch.org
 

Press Release: Advocacy Orgs Urge Obama to Sign Disclosure Exec. Order This Week

Defy Chamber, McConnell and Others Working to Undermine Campaign Finance Reform

Powerful Tool to Make Political Spending by Corporations Public

WASHINGTON, May 9, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In light of reports that President Obama may sign an executive order, in the face of dogged opposition, requiring disclosure of donations by those who seek contracts with the federal government, Kevin Zeese, an attorney with CampaignAccountabilityWatch.org (CAW) released the following statement:

"President Obama has the opportunity to greatly minimize the impact of money on the corruption of politics by taking two actions. First, sign the executive order requiring disclosure of political donations by people who receive contracts from the federal government.  Second, enforce existing campaign finance and tax laws so that non-profit organizations are not illegally used to hide the identity of large individual and corporate donors. A tax and campaign finance enforcement investigation of the misuse of non-profits in the 2010 election will show donors they risk prosecution for evading federal campaign finance laws as do the people working with non-profits who do so. Transparency is a powerful antidote to corruption."

Alternet: Unlimited Secret Money Is Drowning Democratic Elections

Corporate interests are flouting election law by using anonymous donations, which are drowning out the voices and votes of working Americans.

May 6, 2011- The 2012 presidential election year promises to be the most expensive ever and unless the Department of Justice does its job, it also promises to be have the most anonymous campaign donations in U.S. history. Unknown corporate interests will fund massive advertising campaigns against and for candidates but the voters will not know who they are or their real agenda. The Obama administration can prevent this further corruption of U.S. democracy by enforcing existing laws.

Open Secrets: Citizens United Decision Profoundly Affects Political Landscape

May 5, 2011- Unprecedented political spending. Secret donors. New ways for unions and corporations to spend money on politics.

An analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics reveals that the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court ruling of January 2010 has profoundly affected the nation's political landscape.

Corporations and unions both benefited from the ruling, being able to use their general treasuries to pay for independent expenditures for the first time.

Washington Post: Op-Ed: Why the GOP should support publicly funded campaigns

-By Alan Simpson

May 5, 2011- Memo to George Will: I was there.

I was proud to testify at the April 12 hearing on Sen. Dick Durbin’s campaign finance bill about which Will wrote last week . I spoke in support of reform that has everything to do with values he has long espoused: free speech, citizen participation and accountable government.

Will was correct that only Democratic members of the Senate attended the hearing. But I am not alone. Former Senate colleagues who also support this long-overdue reform include Republicans Warren Rudman, Bill Cohen, Bill Brock and Frank Murkowski, as well as dozens of other former senators, representatives and governors from our side of the aisle. In fact, we owe the concept of publicly funded elections to a great Republican president, Teddy Roosevelt, who proposed a similar reform in his 1905 State of the Union address.

Politico: Legal challenge to GOP independent cash

May 5, 2011- Campaign Accountability Watch, a coalition of dozens of smaller liberal groups, has launched a legal challenge to outside spending by GOP-leaning groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS.

The Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision opened the door to a massive change in political spending, which those groups capitalized on in last year’s midterm elections.

The new group wants U.S. attorneys to prosecute outside groups for using nonprofits to take anonymous donations in what it says is a violation of election laws that require transparency. The new coalition has sent letters to 40 U.S. attorneys, along with 12,000 signatures, asking them to prosecute alleged 2010 election law violations.

“What this is about is people who don’t want to see secret campaign contributions,” said Kevin Zeese, a spokesman and attorney for the group. “This is a conspiracy between the funders not wanting their names used and American Crossroads using a nonprofit to violate election laws.”

Wall St. Journal: Democrats Copy Republicans on New Donor Group

April 29, 2011- Looking to counter Republicans who poured money into the 2010 election, much of it from anonymous donors, Democrats formed their own group today that will do the same.

Bill Burton, former White House deputy press secretary and an adviser for Priorities USA. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)Priorities USA, being advised by two former White House aides, is copying Republican techniques and organizing itself under the tax code in a way that does not require it to disclose donors, and can accept money from lobbyists, corporations and unions. It hopes to raise $100 million this political cycle.

That puts the White House in a tricky position. Last year, President Barack Obama and other Democrats repeatedly attacked Republican groups for not naming its contributors. The president said the money is “not just a threat to Democrats, that’s a threat to our democracy.”

Today, the White House spokesman tried to distance the president from the new group — without  exactly telling the organizers to cease and desist.

“We don’t control outside groups,” Press Secretary Jay Carney said aboard Air Force One today. “These are not people working for the administration.”

CAW Press Release: New Campaign Launches to Stop Karl Rove Corruption of the 2012 Election

CampaignAccountabilityWatch.org Urges DOJ To Stop Millions In Secret Money from Undermining Integrity of Election, Sends Letters to 40 US Attorneys Urging Prosecution of Violations

WASHINGTON, May 5, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Karl Rove is at it again and a new coalition has launched to hold Rove and his colleagues accountable in the upcoming election.

CampaignAccountabilityWatch.org, a new coalition of dozens of fair election non-profit organizations and advocates, is fighting back against Mr. Rove and others, such as the Chamber of Commerce and American Future Fund, to make sure that they do not violate campaign finance law in the upcoming election as they have done in the past.

Just last month Rove announced that his American Crossroads/Crossroads GPS groups are planning to spend $120 million in the 2012 electoral cycle to ensure more conservatives are elected to Congress and President Obama is defeated.

CampaignAccountabilityWatch.org has sent letters to 40 U.S. Attorneys along with more than 12 thousand signatures of citizens urging prosecution of these organizations for illegally using non-profit front groups to violate the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) during the 2010 elections. None have been prosecuted for their violations to date.

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