On Tuesday, the Supreme Court allowed a lower-court ruling to take effect that will require nonprofit advocacy groups to disclose the names of political donors at least through the 2018 midterm elections, handing a win to campaign finance reformers and a loss to Crossroads GPS and other nonprofits that specialize in using secret "dark money" donations to influence political campaigns.
Last month, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington, D.C., had sided with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) against Crossroads GPS, an influential conservative group, and threw out a decades-old Federal Elections Commission (FEC) rule shielding donors to political nonprofits. With the Supreme Court denying Crossroads GPS's request for a stay, "we're about to know a lot more about who is funding our elections," said CREW executive director Noah Bookbinder.
"With less than 50 days before this fall's congressional elections, the ruling has far-reaching consequences that could curtail the ability of major political players to raise money and force the disclosure of some of the country's wealthiest donors," The Washington Post reports. "The change could affect heavyweight groups across the political spectrum, including the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity on the right and the League of Conservation Voters on the left." Conservatives were the ones complaining on Tuesday, characterizing Howell's ruling as an ill-timed incursion on free speech.
Starting Wednesday, the nonprofit advocacy groups will have to release the names of donors who contribute more than $200 annually for the purpose of influencing a federal election. Crossroads GPS will likely appeal the ruling, and the FEC will write a new rule for nonprofits, but neither of those will be in effect before the 2018 elections. The Supreme Court said Chief Justice John Roberts had referred the request for a stay to the court, which is divided 4-4 along ideological lines. The statement did not elaborate. You can read more at The Washington Post. Peter Weber