Friday, March 18, 2011

Wisconsin Democracy Campaign's "Phony Issue Post"

Wisconsin Democracy Campaign is a nonprofit corporation that promotes greater regulation of campaign finance and electioneering. It has been known, from time to all of the time, to rail against what it calls "phony issue ads" - communications made during an election that discuss issues in a way that either conveys criticism or praise for one of the candidates. A majority on the current United States Supreme Court isn't enamored of the concept, but WCD seems to be sticking to its guns. The reason: It says that regulation of campaign contributions can be evaded if unlimited amounts of money can be spent on issue ads that tend to promote or attack candidates.

So imagine my surprise when over at WCD's Big Money Blog, the group's executive director has put up not one - but two posts - criticizing Justice Prosser as a partisan and promoting the idea that David Prosser is intrinsically tied to Scott Walker. Indeed one chides Prosser for his "Scott problem." The web site, as far as I know, is not paid for by the Kloppenburg campaign or any other form of regulated campaign contributions.

Fortunately for Mr. McCabe, but no thanks to WCD, it remains perfectly legal for organizations to exercise their free speech and associational rights during an election. Hypocrisy is a human failing, but it's not illegal.

Still there may be a problem. WCD solicits tax deductible donations on its website as a 501(c)(3) organizations. 501(c)(3)s are, of course, prohibited from supporting or opposing candidates for public office.

Now, WCD may have an affiliated 501(c)(4) corporation and they are permitted to engage in some political activity. But there are limits on the tax deductibility of moneys used for that purpose. I'd be reluctant to use a website that solicits contributions for the a 501(c)(3) as a vehicle for the political activities of a c(4), but I'll leave that to tax experts.

Mr. McCabe may argue that his issue ad is not phony. How he distinguishes his high minded discussion of issues from everyone else's low and "dishonest" promotion of candidates. I can't but then again I believe in free speech. For everyone.

6 comments:

Real Debate said...

Just another left wing org pretending to be non-profit and unbiased.

This same group has never been to a TEA party and proudly attends and promotes Fighting Bob fest yearly.

Mike McCabe is just another partisan hack.

krshorewood said...

That, from an expert.

illusory tenant said...

What's most profoundly troubling about this here blog post is the fact that I agree with it almost in its entirety. My only quibble is that you left out the part about Justice Prosser "agreeing" to be subpoenaed, which makes me laugh every time Mr. McCabe repeats it.

George Mitchell said...

Good post. Important topic. The odds are that McCabe will probably skate any IRS review, but it would be interesting to know if he has a c4 to go along with his c3.

George Mitchell said...

I posted at WDC suggesting Mike McCabe respond to Rick's concern.

Garzajipf said...

Just another left wing org pretending to be non-profit and unbiased. This same group has never been to a TEA party and proudly attends and promotes Fighting Bob fest yearly. Mike McCabe is just another partisan hack.