With some groups spending amounts upwards of $1 billion, the question most citizens are asking is whether or not they still have a fair voice in our First Amendment society.
Rep. John Kefalas of Coloradoâ€™s 52nd House District, and District 14 Senate candidate, says the issue of outside spending is all about fairness.Â While some see the issue as a right of free speech for 527 and 501(c)(4) groups, Kefalas disagrees. â€œI find it a bit of a hypocrisy, a double-standard, when you say unlimited amounts of money, itâ€™s free speech, and yet we donâ€™t necessarily want to you to know who is giving that money.Â You tell me whatâ€™s up with that,â€ said Kefalas.
Many groups that are 501(c)(4)â€™s do not need to disclose their donors because of their tax status with the IRS. Â As it turns out, most of these groups were the primary beneficiaries of the Citizens United decisionâ€”a ruling that defined free speech for corporations and non-profits.
A new ruling by the FEC last week slightly changes the law to say if any non-profit group engages in ads referring to federal candidates, â€œbut doesnâ€™t overtly advocate for or against them, it must report the names and addresses of donors who give more than $1,000.â€
This ruling could affect groups like America Coming TogetherÂ and Karl Roveâ€™s 501(c)(4) group Crossroads GPS, requiring them to disclose donors based on any at fault ads dating back to March of 2012.
I donâ€™t equate unlimited amounts of money, that are corrupting the entire system, with free speech,” said Kefalas.
The amounts he is referring to are, as he said, unlimited, while the amounts we as citizens may contribute to any campaign are limited by law.
This weekâ€™s FEC ruling may change the law of the land, but outside spenders have consistently found ways to get around almost every law in election history.Â The ability of the FEC to push some sort of election reform through its normal gridlock is a change of pace though.