A bill introduced to the House of Representatives and awaiting a vote would make “dark money” untraceable, which poses some risks to charity fraud investigations. “Dark money” refers to anonymous donations to nonprofits, usually politically active groups, that allow wealthy people to donate money without attracting attention to themselves. It’s become a huge issue in politics of late, especially since the Citizens United victory in 2010 that allowed for unlimited spending by corporations and other entities on political campaigns. This presidential election season is already gearing up to cost more than twice the 2012 race.
The bill would eliminate an IRS mandated donor-disclosure requirement, meaning that groups wouldn’t have to say who gave them money. Supporters say this protects the First Amendment rights of donors and protects them from political pressure and the like. Meanwhile, opponents say that it would make it difficult for fraud investigations to determine who donated to charities and whether or not there are conflicts of interest there. It would also prevent them from determining if charities moved funds between one another.
Charity fraud is a serious issue, and although it doesn’t happen all that often, only about 1% of annual giving is affected, it’s still something that needs to be investigated. Especially since when it does come to light, it tends to get a lot of press and damage the nonprofit sector’s image. Adding fuel to opponents’ arguments against the bill are the supporters themselves, most notable Citizens United and the Koch Brothers. If you’ve been following politics for the last decade, especially campaign finance, then you know that these groups have never had the best interest of American’s at heart, but only those of billionaires and corporations. This bill is simply another attempt to increase their own power, while denying the government the ability to keep them in check, and this time it’ll make fraud easier.