Obama Goes After Secretive Groups

What will happen to Stephen Colbert’s presidential ambitions? On Tuesday, the Obama administration issued guidance that would seek to curb the use of tax-exempt groups in political campaigns, which have had a large role in recent elections. The new rules would reign in these groups’ activities such as advertising, voter registration, get-out-the-vote, and dissemination of campaign materials. In recent elections these groups have spent millions of dollars, but kept their donors anonymous under tax rules for 501(c)(4) organizations. The groups have become a major lightning rod in election law, with many arguing the IRS does too little to regulate them. Earlier in the year, tea party groups claimed they faced more obstacles to get tax-exempt status because of their politics, so now Treasury and the IRS say they are making the rules more clear. "This proposed guidance is a first critical step toward creating clear-cut definitions of political activity by tax-exempt social welfare organizations," said Treasury Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy Mark Mazur.