Obama is on record against PACs and SuperPACs, which can funnel unlimited amounts of money into protected political speech. So of course, when he accepts money from them, he is attacked for being hypocritical.
And yet, it seems that the only way this country will get any restrictions against PACs and SuperPACs, is by them getting used against Republicans.
Exhibit A is Brad Daw, a GOP state legislator in Utah. Jason Powers, a local political operative, created the “Proper Role of Government Defense Fund” PAC and started sending out mailers attacking Daw. After the first attack, angry state legislators immediately changed the law, requiring PACs to disclose their donors every 30 days.
But that didn’t work. All of the donations to the “Proper Role of Government Defense Fund” come from one organization, the “Proper Role of Government Education Association”, a 501(c)(4) non-profit that Powers had already created through the IRS. By law, non-profits are not required to disclose their donors.
Of course, this is exactly what the SuperPACs associated with presidential campaigns do — they have an affiliated non-profit to launder the donations money so nobody can tell where it comes from. For all we know, these organizations could be taking money from foreign governments, or even terrorists. There is no way to tell.
Representative Daw is rightly upset. “If somebody wants to attack my record or come after me, that’s fine, but let’s be clear about who it is. The whole point about disclosure is to not have this shell game going on.”
And about the money being funneled through a non-profit? Daw says “It’s legal, but it’s very, very unethical.”
Of course, Powers points out that Daw has happily accepted donations from corporations and other associations that don’t disclose donors. I guess that’s different.
Now that Republicans are getting a taste of their own medicine, will they help improve transparency by requiring (at the very least) full disclosure of all money being used for political speech? I hope so, but I’m not holding my breath.