As Americans Argue Over Russia, US Gov’t Quietly Allows “Dark Money” Groups to Keep Donors Secret

By Rachel Blevins

While politicians and mainstream media outlets obsess over President Trump’s recent press conference with Russian President Putin, the United States Treasury quietly announced that it will no longer force “dark money” groups or certain tax-exempt organizations to disclose their financial donors.

While traditional charity groups must still disclose donors in order to receive tax-exempt donations, the change allows labor unions, nonprofits and issue advocacy groups to be free from being forced to adhere to confidential disclosure requirements.

In a statement praising the new rule, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, “Americans shouldn’t be required to send the IRS information that it doesn’t need to effectively enforce our tax laws, and the IRS simply does not need tax returns with donor names and addresses to do its job in this area.”

Mnuchin attempted to paint the shift as a good thing by claiming that “it is important to emphasize that this change will in no way limit transparency.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted that the new rules will keep Americans from being “bullied for exercising their First Amendment rights,” alleging that individuals could be fired from their jobs or bullied if their political donations are made public.

However, Senator Jon Tester argued that “We need more transparency in our campaigns, not less,” and said he views the rules change as “unacceptable” and the description of “Washington at its worst.”

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While some politicians have gone as far as to praise this move as a “win” for privacy, they are also applauding a change that will allow them to be less transparent with their constituents. As a report from Reuters noted, the change “protects the privacy of wealthy donors of ‘dark money’ donations to politically active groups.”

These “dark money” groups include organizations such as the National Rifle Association (NRA), Planned Parenthood, the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, and George Soros’ Open Society Foundation.

The announcement from the Treasury came on the same day that a Russian woman named Marina Butina was arrested and charged with “conspiracy to act as an agent for the Russian Federation” by building ties with the NRA and other political organizations.

Senator Ron Wyden criticized the timing of the move on Twitter, and claimed that the Treasury “has made it EASIER for anonymous foreign donors to funnel dark money into nonprofits THE SAME DAY a Russian national linked to the NRA was arrested for trying to influence our elections.”

No matter an individual’s political stance, or beliefs on whether the Russian government tried to influence the 2016 election, the fact that the U.S. federal government appears to be acting in favor of those “dark money” donors is incredibly troubling.

However, even though the U.S. Treasury has essentially approved election meddling through secret financial donations, the mainstream media’s focus has remained on whether Trump should have met one-on-one with Putin, and on the 12 Russian officers who were indicted for alleged hacking—even though there is no proof that their actions were sponsored by the Russian government.

American taxpayers deserve to know who their elected officials are being funded by, and while it is not likely that those representatives will ever wear NASCAR jackets with the names of their sponsors and corporate interests, it is disturbing that the federal government is moving to protect “dark money” donors, against the interest of transparency.

Rachel Blevins is an independent journalist from Texas, who aspires to break the false left/right paradigm in media and politics by pursuing truth and questioning existing narratives. Follow Rachel on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Steemit and Patreon. This article first appeared at The Free Thought Project.

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9 Comments on "As Americans Argue Over Russia, US Gov’t Quietly Allows “Dark Money” Groups to Keep Donors Secret"

  1. michael howard | July 19, 2018 at 4:24 pm | Reply

    Are you not entertained?!..

    • Agreed, distraction via entertainment, with subtle immorality constantly presented online. It distresses me how the MSM constantly presents photos of premature teenage girls with overdeveloped mammary glands between paragraphs of articles. Am I the only one who receives these distractions ? Now, we are intimidated to accept these distractions in order to gain access to most home pages. “Provide you with items of your individual interest” is a magnanimous lie by owners of the MSM.

      • michael howard | July 20, 2018 at 1:19 pm | Reply

        You’re not the only one. Subtle programming trying to make men use all of their essence in masturbation.

        • Chelsea Poole | July 24, 2018 at 7:13 pm | Reply

          Good work, gentlemen — your ability to stay on topic speaks mountains of your *ahem* character.

          “Constrictive” laws? “Essence?” Did any of you read this article?

  2. This article implies clearly that not Russians, but Americans are behind the destruction of their own democratic elections!

    • Chelsea Poole | July 24, 2018 at 7:08 pm | Reply

      How so? I am curious to hear your ‘logic’ as to how this article “clearly” implies that one is possible but not the other, or both simultaneously.

      • The answer is not difficult to understand. Russia has been accused of meddling in the 2016 US elections by paying for ads to favour Trump over Clinton. The US Congress and Republican Administrations have legislated allowing secret monies to buy many elections, not just the 2016 one, It is Americans that made it possible for Russia or any other nation to be accused of meddling in US elections with their full pocket books, Don’t try to blame others for America’s foolish actions.

        • Chelsea Poole | July 25, 2018 at 12:17 am | Reply

          Thank you for filling out your argument, as the logic was less than clear in the original post. I’m not about blaming a foreign entity for our Government’s foolishness/greed — I just wanted clarity on your statement, and you provided it…

          In essence, it takes two to tango. Nobody (we assume) forced our politicians to take Russian money/support, any more than donations from any other special interest group.

  3. Garry Compton | July 22, 2018 at 8:37 am | Reply

    Yes, the Cold War was such a Great distraction and Plus $ for the USG – they made sure there is another Cold War in order to keep the MIC, DOD, MSM, and dozens of other US / State Agencies – overflowing with money and new –Constrictive Laws.

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