Open Secrets: Ten Nonprofits Called Out for Breaking Political Spending Cap


Uncovering this duplicitous behavior can be difficult, noted Paul S. Ryan, deputy executive director of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center. Nonprofits are not required to file their Form 990s — their tax paperwork — until long after the spending in question has occurred. And with lax enforcement by the government and hazy definitions in the law, many groups appear to push the envelope when it comes to trying to influence elections.

“The whole reason we’ve seen an explosion of use and abuse of 501(c)(4) organizations is that they don’t have to disclose where they’re getting their money,” Ryan said. “We’re not seeing effective enforcement, so it’s tough to know how much illegal activity’s going on. But the sense is that there’s a lot, and that the amount of illegal activity by 501(c)(4)s has been growing.”

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