The following letter to the editor from Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, was published in today’s issue of The New York Times.
To the Editor:
The Internal Revenue Service is working on important changes to the tax code to redefine political activity for nonprofits (“The I.R.S. Gives Up on ‘Dark Money,’ ” editorial, July 26). If these rules are done right, they will prevent corporations and the wealthy from using nonprofits to game the system to secretly influence elections, as well as give legitimate nonprofits increased understanding of what is allowable.
The Republican Party’s demonization of the agency and continuing engagement with the conspiracy theory of politically motivated targeting gave the I.R.S. little breathing room to carry out new rules in time for the 2016 elections.
We are on the brink of another election that is sure to be the target of millions in anonymous big money funneled through nonprofits, which will again make the point that these rules are needed. After more than 18 months of reworking a proposal for new rules, we look forward to the I.R.S.’s release of its newest draft.
New rules should be on the books and enforceable before the end of the Obama administration.
The writer is director of the Bright Lines Project and Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division.