The Obama administration this week unveiled a proposed rule that would limit the role tax-exempt, nonprofit groups play in politics and election campaigns. Under the proposed rule, “social welfare” groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the pro-Obama outfit Priorities USA, which enjoy certain tax benefits under the 501(c)(4) designation but could raise millions of dollars for election campaigns, would be kept from engaging in political activities like running ads, registering voters or distributing campaign literature.
Currently, such social welfare groups are allowed to engage in some side political work. A long comment period awaits this newly proposed Treasury Department regulation and it won’t likely be finalized until after the 2014 elections.
Jessica Levinson, Professor of Law at Loyola Law School. Her research focuses on election law and governance issues
Brad Smith, Professor of Law at the Capital University Law School in Ohio, and Chairman and Founder of the Center for Competitive Politics, a nonprofit organization dedicated solely to protecting First Amendment political rights