Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Proposal Would out 'Dark Money' Political Groups

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Proposal Would out 'Dark Money' Political Groups

Article excerpt

HARRISBURG -A Senate proposal would increase reporting and disclosure requirements for outside groups that spend money to influence elections in Pennsylvania.

The bill would extend disclosure requirements that already apply to candidate committees and political party committees to 501(c) and 527 groups, sometimes referred to as independent expenditure or "dark money" groups.

At least two such groups have been advertising during the state's ongoing budget impasse - America Works USA, a group tied to the Democratic Governors Association, and Citizens to Protect PA Jobs, which is tied to the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. America Works has been sending mailers into the districts of a number of Republican legislators in support of Gov. Tom Wolf's budget proposals; Citizens to Protect PA jobs has been running television ads against a shale gas tax, which is a centerpiece of the governor's budget proposal.

Both organizations are what the IRS calls 501(c)(4) entities - nonprofits that can engage in political activity without revealing their donors, as traditional political campaigns and candidates must.

"The question most people would like to know is, 'Who's paying for it?' " said Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, the bill's sponsor.

Spending by these types of groups has skyrocketed since the 2010 Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Since Citizens United, more and more money has been spent to influence the political process and elections through these 527 organizations and 501(c) organizations," Mr. …

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