AP Enterprise: Paul's nonprofits push law's limitSubmitted by DeMolay on Sat, 12/24/2011 - 05:31
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The passionate support of an eclectic group of libertarians and young people has Ron Paul in contention to win the Iowa caucus. So has the work of two well-funded nonprofits that for the past three years have kept his aides employed, his volunteers organized and his ideas afloat.
Those nonprofits, including Paul's flagship Campaign for Liberty, blur the line between his presidential campaign and issue advocacy in a way experts say runs afoul of the spirit, and perhaps the letter, of federal tax and campaign finance law.
But unlike a political campaign organization, whose finances are tightly regulated and made public, such advocacy nonprofits can raise unlimited sums of money and aren't required to disclose where it came from or all the details about how it was spent.
"It sounds like it was a way to maintain a permanent campaign," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan watchdog group. "These groups were never supposed to be political organizations, but more and more, we're seeing them used that way. All of this is leading to our elections getting more and more out of control with fewer regulations."