Wyden, Merkley Introduce Bill to Overturn Rule Protecting Dark Money Donors

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today introduced legislation that would overturn a new controversial Treasury Department rule exempting nonprofit organizations from disclosing donor information  

The Spotlight Act would reverse the Treasury Department’s decision that allows non-profit organization who engage in political activity to avoid disclosing certain donor information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  The Spotlight Act also requires these organizations to disclose the names of donors to the public, not just the IRS.

This bill shines new light on dark money donors and keeps Russian oligarchs with friends at the NRA from being able to funnel money into our elections undetected,” Wyden said. “Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin must be held accountable for using any means possible to wrest control of our democracy from the hands of American citizens.”

“Our founders made it clear that this is supposed to be a nation of, by, and for the people, but in recent years, our democracy has been hijacked by powerful special interests,” Merkley said. “We need to end the dark money that is drowning out the voices of ordinary Americans in our elections. Our government needs to work to create opportunity for everyone, not rig our economy for the wealthy and powerful.”

Under current law, 501(c)(3) organizations are required to provide donor information to the IRS, however, the Treasury Secretary has discretion about whether to require donor information for the other types of tax-exempt organizations. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin recently decided he would not collect that information any more.

The Spotlight Act would specifically require three classes of nonprofit organizations (501(c)(4), 501(c)(5), and 501(c)(6)) to disclose publicly and to the IRS the names and information of donors who contribute more than $5,000.

Additional cosponsors of the legislation include Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Tom Carper, D-Del., Bob Casey, D-Pa., Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Richard Durbin., D-Ill., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.V., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Tim Kaine, D-Va., Angus King, I-Maine, Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Gary Peters, D-Mich., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Tom Udall, D-Mont., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.


Text of the bill can be found here.


A web version of this release is available here.