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Americans for Prosperity launching $25M campaign

By Laurie Bennett

August 7, 2012 at 1:31pm

How, you might well ask, can an organization finance a $25 million attack ad campaign against a sitting president, and claim that it is not campaigning?

The effort by Americans for Prosperity will begin Wednesday, the New York Times reports.

As a 501(c)(4) organization, the group is supposed to be issues-oriented, rather than focusing on specific candidates. If the issue is dumping the current president, Americans for Prosperity is all over it.

Drawing on funding from the Koch brothers and other wealthy interests on the right, the group has built a nationwide network of state and local chapters. Its tax status enables it to collect millions of dollars without revealing the names of donors.

What is known is that Charles and David Koch, owners of Koch Industries, and Sheldon Adelson, chairman of Las Vegas Sands, have provided significant support.

As Open Secrets reported Monday, spending by such nondisclosing groups has tripled since the last election.

Republicans, who have benefitted most from this trend, don’t want the Internal Revenue Service messing with a good thing. Ten U.S. senators sent a letter Monday to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, urging him to resist efforts to change the rules governing 501(c)(4) groups.

Such revisions, they argued, would amount to “partisan political gains.” The senators’ letter followed a statement by the IRS last month that it would consider proposed changes to the law regulating such nonprofits.

By default, Shulman has become the chief overseer of campaign finance. The Federal Election Commission, with three Democratic and three Republican commissioners, is in a state of paralysis. Legislation that would have required donor disclosure was blocked last month by Senate Republicans.

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