Magazine article The Quill

AWARD WINNER: PUBLIC SERVICE - ONLINE: Independent

Magazine article The Quill

AWARD WINNER: PUBLIC SERVICE - ONLINE: Independent

Article excerpt

Derek Willis and Aron Pilhofer

The Center for Public Integrity

Section 527 organizations are the fund-raising backdoor for political campaigns. The nonprofit agencies can filter in unlimited amounts of donations and may engage in election-related activities such as ads, voter drives and political research.

The organizations report only to the Internal Revenue Service. And, until August 2000,527 organizations were not even required to disclose information about contributors or expenditures.

While the 1RS placed the information on the Internet, the 1RS was not required to make sense of it. So The Center for Public Integrity did. It found nearly $450 million spent quietly by political committees.

"These often shadowy groups are exempt from regulation by state or federal elections officials because they operate in a gray area of the law," said database editor Aron Pilhofer. "Yet they have spent more than a half-billion dollars over the last four years to influence local, state and federal elections across the country."

"Silent Partners: How political nonprofits work the system" revealed that 527 organizations spend millions on Democrats and Republicans each year.

WASHINGTON, September 25,2003 - It was the morning of November 6,2002, the day after Democrats had lost control of the U.S. Senate, lost ground in the U.S. House of Representatives and were soundly beaten in several key gubernatorial races.

The man at the top of the party, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, had some explaining to do. Standing before the gathered media in Washington, O. …

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