A major spending bill posted late last night by Congressional leaders contains provisions shooting down two key initiatives of the campaign finance reform community. 

Stymied by a Federal Election Commission that has increasingly struggled to find consensus, campaign finance activists in recent years have turned their attention to other federal regulators, pressing those regulators to

Earlier today, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, in his first appearance before the House Appropriations subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Oversight, stated that final regulations governing political activity by 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations are unlikely to be completed before the November elections.

His statement seems to differ from the White House Statement of Administration

Yesterday evening the Treasury and the IRS released, sooner than expected, proposed regulations that could fundamentally change the playing field for 501(c)(4) organizations active in politics.  The proposed regulations will be published in the Federal Register on Friday, November 29.  The pre-publication version is here.

Highlights

The proposed regulations mirror the approach first taken

Twenty House Democrats yesterday introduced proposed legislation that, if enacted in its current form, would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to:

  • Require corporations and labor unions which “submit[] regular, periodic reports” to their shareholders and members to include certain detailed information concerning their political spending.  That information must also be reported to

The IRS on Tuesday issued its eagerly anticipated 30-day report summarizing its initial review and assessment of “what went wrong” in connection with the IRS’s use of inappropriate criteria to screen exemption applications from Tea Party groups seeking recognition that they are 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations.  We had previously blogged on this here and here

Late yesterday afternoon, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released its eagerly awaited report on its investigation into the IRS’s use of inappropriate criteria for screening tax-exempt applications (“IG Report”). The Inspector General initiated its investigation after members of Congress raised concerns during the 2012 election cycle that the IRS was selectively enforcing the

“That was wrong. That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate. That’s not how we go about selecting cases for further review.”

In an unexpected move that surprised some and angered others, Lois Lerner, Director of Exempt Organizations of the Internal Revenue Service, publicly apologized for the IRS’s mishandling of exemption applications

This morning the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism held a hearing on “Current Issues in Campaign Finance Law Enforcement.”  The focus of the hearing was what the Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service are doing to enforce campaign finance law violations post-Citizens United with respect to contributions to Super PACs