DearColleague.us

Letter

 

From: The Honorable Matt Cartwright
Sent By:
geoffrey.louden@mail.house.gov

Date: 10/31/2016

Cosponsor the Openness in Political Expenditures Now (OPEN) Act today!

Supporting Organizations: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)

Dear Colleague,

Americans want to know who is paying to influence their elections. They want to know who is behind the negative ads on TV and endless robocalls. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible for them to find out.
Citizens United led to massive infusions of cash into elections at all levels, including a flood of so-called “dark money” coming from nameless, faceless donors. In the 2014 mid-term elections alone,

“[d]ark money groups have spent at least $142 million on advertising campaigns naming specific senators, representatives and congressional candidates . . . .”

The Problem

1)         Corporations Do Not Disclose Campaign Spending to Shareholders

Shareholders are often left in the dark as to how much money the companies they invest in spend on electioneering. Without this information, they cannot judge whether or not these expenditures are in the best financial interests of the company and the shareholders.
Campaign spending should be open to shareholder scrutiny.

2)         Abuse of 501(c)(4) Status to Funnel Dark Money into U.S. Elections

Tax-exempt social welfare groups poured millions into the 2014 election, attacking candidates from both sides of the aisle. Many of these groups exist entirely for political purposes, but they are not required to disclose where their money comes from like
other political committees. Further, their tax-exempt status means they are essentially subsidized by U.S. taxpayers. More consistent guidelines are needed regarding which groups are entitled to claim tax-exempt status.

The Solution

1)         Disclosure to Shareholders

The OPEN Act requires corporations to disclose political spending in their regular reports to shareholders. This includes electioneering communications, independent expenditures, and payments to 501(c)(4) groups. This does not hamper a corporation’s right
to spend as much as it wants on electioneering or other forms of political speech, it merely requires that shareholders be informed of such spending—something they should have a right to know.

2)         A Fairer, More Consistent Definition of Tax-Exempt Social Welfare Organizations

It is essential that these rules be fair and politically neutral, yet tough enough to keep purely political groups from using them simply to avoid disclosing their donors. To discourage dark-money groups from using 501(c)(4) status to funnel millions into
our elections at taxpayer expense, the OPEN Act caps political spending by tax-exempt social welfare organizations at 10% of total expenditures for the taxable year.

Help restore confidence in our elections. Support greater transparency and fairer rules for 501(c)(4)s. Become a cosponsor of the OPEN Act today. Please contact Geoffrey Louden (geoffrey.louden@mail.house.gov,
5-5546) with any questions or to be added as a cosponsor.

Sincerely,

MATT CARTWRIGHT

Member of Congress