Political Animal

Blog

May 28, 2013 11:54 AM The Chilling Effect of Honesty

By Ed Kilgore

If you want an indicator of how rapidly conservative-land has internalized the latest talking point that shadowy tax-exempt groups engaged in campaign activities have a God-given right to hide their donors, check out this development from Texas, as reported by HuffPost’s Luke Johnson:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) vetoed a Republican bill Saturday that would have required nonprofits that engage in politics to disclose their donors.
The measure, SB 346, would have required 501(c)4 social welfare groups that spend more than $25,000 in a calendar year on political expenditures to disclose contributions above $1,000.
“My fear is that SB 346 would have a chilling effect on both of those rights in our democratic political process,” Perry said in his veto message. “While regulation is necessary in the administration of Texas political finance laws, no regulation is tolerable that puts anyone’s participation at risk or that can be used by any government, organization or individual to intimidate those who choose to participate in our process through financial means.”
He then alluded to the current controversy over the IRS’ targeting of tea party groups. “At a time when our federal government is assaulting the rights of Americans by using the tools of government to squelch dissent, it is unconscionable to expose more Texans to the risk of such harassment, regardless of political, organizational or party affiliation,” he said.

Oh yeah. The vicious, frightening efforts of the feds to get groups running ads and advocating for and against candidates to tell us who’s paying the freight in exchange for a tax subsidy are now justification for their refusal to tell us who’s paying the freight in exchange for a tax subsidy.

More air-tight logic in the service of an absurd proposition. And all the more reason Congress should be talking about legislation to eliminate eligibility for tax-exempt status for all groups—left, right or center—who engage in campaign activities.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

(You may use HTML tags for style)

comments powered by Disqus