PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THAT CURTAIN: SEC.501(C)(4) AND THE 2012 ELECTION,By Louise Annarino,July 10, 2012

11 Jul

PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THAT CURTAIN: Sec. 501(c)(4) and the 2012 Election, By Louise Annarino, July 10, 2012

We live in the Land of Oz these days; not the movie, but our very lives, Is anyone out there listening to Dorothy’s lament? She has suffered through terrible storms, as have we: climate change, unfunded wars, 9/11 attack, bank fraud, mortgage melt-down, economic recession/depression, privatization and de-regulation, destruction of the middle-class, erosion of a safety net, attacks on public servants,women, immigrants and union workers. She fears she has lost all. She sees no clear future. The American Dream seems to be merely that, a dream. She simply wants to find her way home, home to the familiar where she feels safe, where she awakes from dreams with the ability to make them happen. Unfortunately, like Americans today, she does not realize she has the power within herself to find her way.

One person finally listens to her; but only when he realizes he can benefit from bringing her within his fold.He opens the door to Oz, invites her in,and promises her exactly what she wants. She falls for the mirage created by a Karl Rovian version of a “very nice man” but “very bad wizard” who uses tricks and deceptions to build a false idea that Dorothy and her buddies must risk all, and take on the formidable Wicked Witch of the West, an enemy he fears and has been unable to contain, before he will help her go home to Kansas. He fully expects she will not survive the ordeal; thus, he is no danger of having to make good on his promises. A typical political operative.

But Dorothy, again like Americans, is determined to succeed with the help of her stalwart friends. It is her willingness to put every concern aside and throw a bucket of water on Scarecrow whom the witch has set afire, which melts away the witch, and her threats. Dorothy saves herself, her friends, the entire city of Oz, even the Wizard himself.

When Dorothy returns to Oz the Wizard plays games with her three compatriots:the Cowardly Lion is given a badge for courage, the Scarecrow is given a diploma for his brains, and a ticking clock to the Tin Man for a heart. Each of these qualities are already present within the characters, but like Dorothy, they have been unable to recognize this fact on their own.

In a memorable scene while Dorothy awaits word from the wizard regarding her return home, her dog Toto pulls back a curtain revealing a man turning gears on the machinery which has created the lie that is the Land of Oz, the lie the people of Oz have also fallen for. He shouts into his microphone, “Pay no Attention to the man behind that curtain.” The wizard sees his power crumbling, and Dorothy sees the truth. She confronts him with such conviction, not allowing him to pull the curtain closed again, and he admits his flawed humanity.  If only we had journalists, politicians, and jurists so brave as Toto, so fearless as Dorothy, so willing to pull back the curtains and reveal truth.

Perhaps we do. Despite the fact that the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) is slow to act, and probably will not do so before 2012 election, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee filed a formal complaint this week against three social welfare groups, charging them with willful violation of federal election law: Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies,Americans for Prosperity, and 60 Plus Association. THese organizations hid behind the curtain provided by section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, which grants them tax exempt status for social welfare work and allows donors to remain anonymous. Public policy is often written into the tax code. In the case of 501(c)(4)s all funds collected are deemed to serve a social welfare purpose which would likely save the government tax dollars which would otherwise need to be spent to assure the public welfare tasks performed by the  organization.

What are these organizations actually doing? Buying political attack ads against specific Democratic candidates. Crossroads (Rove and former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie) has already spent $25 million on ads attacking President Obama, and plans to spend nearly $40 million (Rove’s Crossroads GPS) attacking Democratic senatorial candidates. Americans for Prosperity (David and Charles Koch) has poured $1 million into Ohio to defeat Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, attacks only Democratic candidates, and has chapters in at least 38 states.(see more at http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/detail.php?cmte=Americans+for+Prosperity.) In 2009, Rachel Maddow opened the curtain on 60 Plus Association (Pharmaceutical Industry) disclosing its ties to the GOP, disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the lobbying group Bonner & Associates.  (see more at http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=60_Plus_Association) Social welfare? Welcome to Oz.

To anyone willing to pay attention to that man behind the curtain it is clear the major purpose of such groups is federal campaign activity, political benefit not social welfare. Therefore, they should not be treated as 501(c)(4) organizations but as political committees, and their donors must be disclosed. Then, each of us, like Dorothy and her companions, will be able to see the truth behind the messages, tricks, distortions and lies that are Oz; and, find our way home. As a result of CITIZENS UNITED, President Obama has for the first time accepted donations from PACS and SUPER PACS, but not from a 501(C)(4) organization. He refuses to draw a curtain over our eyes. His donors are disclosed, along with his tax returns, and bank balances. Is the Mitt Romney behind that curtain? He may be a very good man but he is a very bad wizard.

(see more at http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/c/campaign_finance/index.html) and http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/09/us/politics/democrats-want-fec-to-restrict-donor-shielding-groups.html?_r=1&ref=campaignfinance)

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