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Attempt to Block IRS Rulemaking on Nonprofit Political Activity Would Exacerbate Problem of Money in Politics

 Statement of Lisa Gilbert, Director, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division

WASHINGTON - An amendment to block the adoption of new regulations to clarify what constitutes political activity for nonprofits would only continue to encourage huge sums of secret contributions to be improperly funneled into our elections. It also would make it harder for nonprofits to engage in allowable civic engagement activities.

The attachment of this rider, offered by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), which would suspend for one year any IRS rulemaking related to 501(c)(4)s (nonprofits) including a new candidate-related political activity definition, is inappropriate and unnecessary.

The current vague IRS standard governing eligibility for nonprofit status has led to confusion for nonprofits and challenges for the IRS. In addition, the existing IRS regulations are responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in secret contributions being improperly laundered by campaign organizations posing as “social welfare” groups.

The IRS is in the process of addressing this problem. Lawmakers should let the agency do its job.

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