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Wyden bill targets ‘dark money’ in campaigns


Sen. Ron Wyden introduced legislation Tuesday that would overturn the U.S. Treasury Department’s controversial new decision that allows “dark money” groups to hide the identities of their major donors from law enforcement officials.

Wyden and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced a Congressional Review Act resolution, an expedited legislative tool that can force a Senate vote on the issue, according to the announcement from his office, which continues as follows.

“This measure reverses course on an undemocratic Trump agenda to empower shadowy groups that seek to buy our elections,” said Wyden, Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee. “It couldn’t come at a more important time. Over the next few weeks, political ads will be flooding the airwaves. Because of the Trump administration’s new dark money rule, tax authorities won’t know whether those ads are being paid for by foreign governments or individuals.”

“Opposition against my resolution with Senator Tester is an endorsement of the Trump administration’s plan to further cripple campaign finance transparency,” Wyden said.

In July, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service eliminated the requirement for certain tax-exempt organizations to report the identities of major donors to the IRS. This allows certain “dark money” groups and politically-charged organizations to hide the identities of their donors from tax authorities. The rule was announced hours after alleged Russian spy Maria Butina was indicted on charges of using the NRA as a conduit to influence our elections.

“The IRS’s decision to give mega-donors and Big Money special interests more secrecy with their political spending goes against what the majority of Americans want. Voters deserve to know who’s behind the seemingly unlimited money that’s trying to influence their vote and their government,” said End Citizens United Action Fund President Tiffany Muller.

“ECU thanks Senators Tester and Wyden for their leadership, and Congress should pass this CRA immediately. It would shine a much-needed light on political nonprofits that spend hundreds of millions of dollars every election cycle in the shadows.”

Under the Congressional Review Act, members of Congress must introduce a disapproval resolution within 60 calendar days from issuance of the final rule. After 20 calendar days, the resolution can be discharged from the Finance Committee without a committee vote. At that point, a motion to proceed to the resolution may be made on the Senate floor, so long as it is supported, in writing, by at least 30 senators.

In July, Wyden introduced the Spotlight Act to overturn the Treasury Department and IRS rule and take it one step further by requiring tax-exempt non-profit organizations to disclose their donors to the public, not just the IRS. This legislation is supported by 29 senators.

You can read Wyden’s Congressional Review Act Resolution here.

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