Put aside the politics, and the question of who-knew-what-when. There are two policy problems highlighted by the controversies at the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Justice. The first is the growth of 501(c)(4) groups into vehicles for anonymous and unlimited political spending. The second is the Barack Obama administration’s overzealous prosecution of leaks.
Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Jo White rebuffed calls by House Republicans to forswear a rule that would force public companies to disclose political spending, saying she won’t “prejudge the issue.”
Caroline Hunter’s six-year term on the Federal Election Commission expires today. If recent history is any guide, what will happen next is ... nothing. Of the six seats on the FEC, which interprets and administers the nation’s election laws, one is vacant and the others are occupied by commissioners with expired terms. It’s tempting to conclude from this that inertia dominates the FEC but that would be mistaken: The commission is more destructive than mere inertia could possibly allow.
Investors have pushed more than 120 public companies in the U.S. to reveal previously confidential details of their political spending even as regulators remain deadlocked over whether to mandate such disclosures.
Senate hearings, lawsuits and an Internal Revenue Service questionnaire are placing new scrutiny on nonprofit groups that spend millions of dollars on political campaigns without disclosing their donors.