Daily Media Links 11/24: Non-Profits Unhappy With IRS Proposed Rule On Charitable Giving, Time to Stop Reporting on Committee Fundraising Numbers, and more…


Daily Caller: Non-Profits Unhappy With IRS Proposed Rule On Charitable Giving

Kerry Picket

Non-profit groups are crying foul at the Internal Revenue Service’s proposed rule that would give organizations the option to collect and send to the IRS the social security numbers of their donors who give $250 or more.

Although the rule under consideration is optional for now, organizations are concerned the IRS may require them to collect and send such information to the agency in the future…

“This is part of the IRS’s continued efforts to reduce the reach and effectiveness of non-profit organizations. Many of you will remember the proposed regulations from last year that would have narrowly defined ‘social welfare’ to shut down conservative organizations critical of the IRS,” stated Freedom Works, a 501c3 organization, about the rule.

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Tallahassee Democrat: Nonprofits, the IRS and the perils of paperwork

TaMaryn Waters

In any case, nonprofits and nonprofit experts say navigating IRS rules and submitting the required paperwork is often laborious and complex — particularly when the organizations are run by volunteers.

“I think they underestimate how complicated it is,” said Alyce Lee Stansbury, CEO of Stansbury Consulting, who advises nonprofits. “And they form around the knowledge and expertise that they have; lacrosse or women’s health or whatever it is. And they’re not experts in running a (nonprofit) organization. And then they find themselves in hot water.”

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Political Parties

Roll Call: Time to Stop Reporting on Committee Fundraising Numbers

Nathan L. Gonzales

The dollar signs and decimal points fill morning newsletters and blog posts as if the figures are of critical importance. But the reality is that committee fundraising can be a poor predictor of which party will gain the majority in the upcoming elections.

Last week, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced it raised $3.8 million in October, $1.5 million more than the National Republican Senatorial Committee, according to a Friday afternoon email from the DSCC with a link to an article with the totals.

But Senate Democrats raising more money than Republicans should not be a surprise. According to the Federal Election Commission, the DSCC has outraised the NRSC for the past 10 years.

The DSCC outraised the NRSC by $40 million in 2014 ($168 million to $128 million) and still lost nine seats and the majority. From 2006 to 2014, Democrats outraised Republicans by $187 million dollars.

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Independent Groups

Forbes: Let Us Give Thanks — For A Bountiful Political Harvest

Bill Whalen

Jeb Bush and Citizens United. It was only a few months ago that some media outlets were complaining about Bush playing fast and loose with the rules regarding super PACs – an extension of years of griping about the Citizens United decision that allowed PACs to take unlimited non-candidate contributions . . . and taken a step further, the notion that super PAC would be 2016’s doomsday devices. But all that Bush’s formidable fundraising has assured is that he’s first in line to be this cycle’s Rudy Giuliani – huge campaign war chest, healthy name recognition, but a difficult path to the nomination. Two polls out this past weekend sum up Bush’s problems: he’s seventh out of 14th in both, in a 5-6% rut. So much for money being the end-all be-all to party nominations – and Citizens United picking winners and losers.

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The Political System

Salon: Our political system is just this corrupt: Lawrence Lessig explodes our diseased, dangerous Congress

Lawrence Lessig

But as well as corrupt individuals, there are corrupt institutions. And not corrupt in the sense that the crime has just metastasized from one to many. But corrupt in the sense that the institution has lost its way. For at least some institutions, there is a clear sense of the institution’s purpose. That purpose has been corrupted when an economy of influence has steered that institution away from its purpose. That steering is the corruption.

Yet here there need be no crime. An institution could be corrupt even if every individual within that institution was not corrupt. The only wrong necessarily attaching to any individual within a corrupt institution is the wrong of not repairing the corruption. It is the failure, as trustee, of maintaining that institution’s trust.

Our Congress is corrupt in this institutional sense. There may or may not be criminals among the members of Congress. If there are, they are very few. In the main, Congress is filled, in the words of former Senator Bill Bradley (DN.J.; 1979– 1997), with “fine public servants . . . stuck in a bad system.”

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Pew Research Center: Perceptions of elected officials and the role of money in politics

As was the case five years ago, more Americans blame problems with Congress on the members themselves, not a broken political system. Overall, 53% say the political system works just fine, and that elected officials are the root of the problems in Congress; 37% say most members of Congress have good intentions, and it’s the political system that is broken (37%).

There are only modest partisan or demographic differences on this question, though moderate and liberal Republicans and leaners are somewhat more likely than other partisan and ideological groups to say problems are systemic (47% say this, compared with no more than 38% of those in other ideological groups).

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Contractor Disclosure

USA Today: The Citizens United president

Robert Weissman

President Obama has 13 months left in office, and just over a month before we begin the calendar election year. There is very little time left for the president to take any action to repair even a small bit of the damage created by Citizens United.

There is one important thing he can do with a stroke of a pen, however: President Obama can issue an executive order requiring government contractors to disclose their political spending expenditures. Such action would help prevent contractors from leveraging secret campaign spending to win federal contracts. It would also shine a light on the dark money spending by federal contractors, a group that includes most large corporations.

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Candidates and Campaigns

New York Times: Wall St. Ties Linger as Image Issue for Hillary Clinton

Patrick Healy

Though she criticizes the American economy as being “rigged” for the rich, Mrs. Clinton has lost some support recently from party members who think she would go easy on Wall Street excess if elected. Even as she promises greater regulation of hedge funds and private equity firms, liberals deride her for refusing to support reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act, a law that separated commercial and investment banks until its repeal under President Bill Clinton. (Mr. Sanders favors its restoration.) And for many Democrats, her strong support from wealthy donors and a big-money “super PAC” undercuts her increasingly progressive rhetoric on free trade and other economic issues.

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Washington Post: No, Donald Trump’s candidacy doesn’t mean that presidential nominations are completely different now

David Karol

In sum, several new developments affect campaigns. The parties are polarized. Changes in campaign finance allow more candidates to get off the ground. Partisan media with star-making power has emerged. Social media helps outsider candidates organize, and the growth in debates gives them more exposure. Much of this complicates the task of party elites seeking to shape outcomes.

Yet while these changes have helped some candidates, including Carson and Sanders, they have little to do with Trump’s success to date.

Trump is definitely something different, but his rise is not a sign that the system has changed.

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The States

Great Falls Tribune: Motl dismisses claim against his office

Phil Drake

The commissioner of political practices on Monday dismissed a complaint filed against his office and an organization opposed to trapping on public land, calling it “frivolous” and leaving the complainant saying he will ask the state Attorney General’s Office to intervene.

Jason Maxwell, vice president of the Montana Trappers Association, who filed the complaint, also said he would file ethics complaints against Jonathan Motl of the COPP.

On Nov. 16, Maxwell filed a multipronged complaint against Trap Free Montana Public Lands, KC York, who is one of its members and the COPP, alleging an unlawful use by the organization of public resources for political purposes, claiming COPP staff altered documents and alleging the commissioner has a conflict of interest.

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The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.