Court Action May Lift Anonymity For Some Campaign Donors | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Court Action May Lift Anonymity For Some Campaign Donors

Play associated audio

Nonprofit groups that want to run campaign ads within two months of the general election have to reveal the names of their donors. That's the result of a federal appeals court action on campaign finance law.

Several weeks ago, a federal court in Washington told the Federal Election Commission it could not allow the buyers of tens of millions of dollars' worth of ads to remain anonymous.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit late Monday, on a 2-to-1 vote, refused to grant a stay of that decision pending appeal. It ordered the full appeal to be heard sometime this fall.

At issue is the ability of tax-exempt groups that run political ads within two months of the general election — or within one month of a primary — to keep secret the names of their donors. Such groups spent some $80 million in the 2010 congressional elections, primarily supporting conservative candidates or attacking their opponents. The donors behind less than 10 percent of that amount were ever disclosed.

"It's a very important victory in the battle to end the secret contributions that are currently being funneled into federal elections," said Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21, the liberal group that worked with Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., to sue the FEC.

The ruling applies specifically to so-called electioneering communications. Not addressed were nonprofit groups that make what are called "independent expenditures" in campaigns. Those are covered in a different section of campaign finance law.

Wertheimer says his group is contemplating a second lawsuit seeking to disclose the donors who finance those forms of ads as well.

S.V. Dáte is the congressional editor for NPR's Washington Desk.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

If Robots 'Speak,' Will We Listen? Novel Imagines A Future Changed By AI

As artificial intelligence alters human connection, Louisa Hall's characters wrestle with whether machines can truly feel. Some "feel they have to stand up for a robot's right to exist," Hall says.
NPR

Aphrodisiacs Can Spark Sexual Imagination, But Probably Not Libido

Going on a picnic with someone special? Make sure to pack watermelon, a food that lore says is an aphrodisiac. No food is actually scientifically linked to desire, but here's how some got that rep.
NPR

A Reopened Embassy In Havana Could Be A Boon For U.S. Businesses

When the U.S. reopens its embassy in Havana, it will increase its staff. That should mean more help for American businesses hoping to gain a foothold on the Communist island.
NPR

In A Twist, Tech Companies Are Outsourcing Computer Work To ... Humans

A new trend is sweeping the tech world: hiring real people. NPR's Arun Rath talks to Wired reporter Julia Greenberg about why tech giants are learning to trust human instinct instead of algorithms.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.