Exciting news from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit…and no, that’s not an oxymoron. Nonprofit groups running campaign ads now have to reveal the names of their donors, thanks to a ruling by the court on campaign finance law.
Several weeks ago, a federal court in Washington told the Federal Election Commission it could not allow the buyers of tens of millions of dollars’ worth of ads to remain anonymous.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit late Monday, on a 2-to-1 vote, refused to grant a stay of that decision pending appeal. It ordered the full appeal to be heard sometime this fall.
At issue is the ability of tax-exempt groups that run political ads within two months of the general election — or within one month of a primary — to keep secret the names of their donors. Such groups spent some $80 million in the 2010 congressional elections, primarily supporting conservative candidates or attacking their opponents. The donors behind less than 10 percent of that amount were ever disclosed.
The Huffington Post points out that this applies to Karl Rove’s Crossroads groups and those supported by the Koch Brothers. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll actually listen:
…But whether the non-disclosing groups will suddenly change their behavior — or gamble that they can continue to skirt disclosure requirements — remains unclear. ‘That is the million-dollar question,’ Malloy said. ‘Or more like the $100 million question.’ Campaign law expert Rick Hasen blogged that he expects the ‘stay request to now end up before the Supreme Court, where the outcome may be different.’”