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Montana Governor Steve Bullock Sues IRS and Department of Treasury over Dark Money

Tuesday, July 24, 2018/Categories: Governor's Office/Tags:

Governor Steve Bullock today filed a lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury over their decision last week to abandon disclosure requirements for major donors to dark money groups.

“We’re coming up on the most momentous midterm election in a generation. The IRS, and the administration, are sending absolutely the wrong message at the wrong time: spend money to get corporate interests elected, and we’ll work to cover your tracks,” said Governor Bullock. “Well, I say not on my watch.”

“When the federal government makes big changes that have been in place since Nixon was President, it has to follow the rules. The IRS didn’t follow the rules, so we’re suing to enforce them,” Bullock continued.

The suit seeks to block the Trump Administration from upending the rules that have been in place for almost 50 years that require 501(c) dark money groups to disclose their major donors to the IRS. Absent that disclosure, so-called social welfare groups could be taking unlimited corporate, or even foreign, contributions to influence elections, contrary to the requirements that grant them tax exempt status.

A copy of the lawsuit is attached.

Governor Bullock has been called “the biggest threat to Citizens United,” and remains committed to ensuring Montana’s elections are the most transparent in the nation. As Attorney General, Bullock led the effort to preserve Montana’s 100-year-old Corrupt Practices Act, taking the case for the state’s citizen democracy all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In an exceedingly rare bipartisan effort, Governor Bullock worked with Republicans and Democrats to pass the DISCLOSE Act to require the disclosure of donors to independent group spending money on state-level elections. The Act requires any group, regardless of their tax status, that spends money or resources to influence an election within 60 days of when voting begins, must disclose how they are spending money and the source of the money.

Most recently, Governor Bullock signed a first-of-its kind executive order requiring the recipients of major government contracts to disclose dark money spending in elections. The order represents a significant new step for transparency in government. Under the executive order, government contractors who have spent over $2,500 in the past two years in elections will be required to disclose their donations. The order covers contributions to so-called “dark money” groups that are otherwise not required to disclose their donors.

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