House Democrats introduced a massive government oversight package last Friday that among other things would require the IRS to issue rules clarifying the permitted political activities of 501(c)(4) groups.
The House package, introduced as H.R. 1, includes numerous provisions Democrats have wanted to pass to limit the influence of so-called “dark money” in politics. Section 501(c)(4) groups can engage in political activity as long as it isn’t their primary activity, and don’t have to publicly disclose their donors. The House bill would require super PACs and 501(c)(4) groups to disclose donors who contribute more than $10,000. It would also establish a public database to disclose who is financing political ads.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said H.R. 1 will “restore integrity to government, so that people can have confidence that government works for the people, not the special interests.”
Until recently, 501(c)(4) groups and other tax-exempt entities were required to report the names and addresses of major donors to the IRS but the agency revoked the decades-old requirement last summer. Only charities and section 527 political organizations, including PACs, are still required to disclose donors to the IRS.
H.R. 1, which House Democrats want to vote on later this month or early in February, also includes provisions to protect voters’ rights and access to the polls and strengthen federal ethics laws. It would also require presidents and vice presidents to release their tax returns.
While H.R. 1 serves as a messaging tool for House Democrats, it’s unlikely to find support in the Republican-controlled Senate or the White House.