With Democrats growing increasingly anxious that the Karl Rove-affiliated “Super PAC” money machine may swamp them in the closing weeks of the election, Montana Senator Max Baucus has called for an IRS investigation into the tax-exempt status of these groups, which allows them to raise money without contribution limits and in some cases to avoid revealing their donors. In a letter to the IRS Baucus asks whether groups are exploiting the tax code to “eliminate transparency in the funding of our elections” and “advance private interests.”
But similar groups have been around for several years–in past elections, mainly on the Democratic side–and the IRS hasn’t seem very troubled. Ending the practice of anodyne-sounding groups that raise and spend unlimited amounts of money with little or no disclosure will probably take an act of Congress. But Congressional Democrats haven’t been able to get a modest package of new disclosure provisions beyond Senate GOP objections, and the coming influx of Republicans to the capital isn’t going to make other reforms very likely in the near future.
In other campaign finance reform news, a “Fair Elections” bill modeled after state laws in Connecticut, Maine and Arizona that would provide public financing to candidates who demonstrate public support has passed out of a House committee and awaits a vote from the full House. But that may not happen before the end of the year, and it certainly won’t happen if Republicans win control of the chamber.