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Saturday, May 06, 2017

Dark money: Trump's religious liberty E.O.

There has been much relief that Trump's religious liberty executive order was not as awful as feared - the ACLU declined to challenge it after all - but discrimination against LGBT people and women was/is not the only disturbing possible effect of the E.O.

How Trump’s Plan to Repeal the Johnson Amendment Could Unleash ‘Super Dark Money’ Into Our Elections

President Donald Trump has promised to “totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment. If he did, he could be helping fill up the corrupt swamp that he promised to drain.

Although framed in terms of religious liberty, rolling back limitations on political activities by charities and churches could offer billionaire donors a way to not only influence elections anonymously, but also to get a charitable tax deduction for doing so.

The so-called “Johnson Amendment” refers to language that bars organizations incorporated under Section 501(c)(3) of the tax code – which includes churches, but also an array of charities – from endorsing candidates and participating in political campaign activities. The provision was introduced in 1954 by then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, passed by a Republican Congress, and signed by a Republican president.

The reason for the restriction is simple: 501(c)(3) organizations are subsidized by taxpayers for their charitable, religious and educational work, not partisan political activity.

Donors to charities and churches get a tax deduction for their contributions. And charities and churches are generally exempt from taxes. In exchange for these substantial tax benefits, these groups agree to abide by certain restrictions – like the prohibition on political intervention.

Trump wants to change that. And if he is successful in getting the Johnson Amendment repealed, it could lead to the creation of what might be called “super dark money groups.” ......

More: Churches cannot be allowed to become political dark money shops


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