With less than 50 days before the midterm elections, the Supreme Court declined to heed an emergency request to stay the ruling on a case regarding donors to political nonprofits. Their decision to leave the case in the lower court essentially overturns a decades-old regulation that allowed donors to such groups to remain secret as long as their contributions weren’t earmarked for certain purposes. The lower court decision was made by Washington state judge Beryl A. Howell.
Federal Election Commission chairwoman Caroline Hunter told the Washington Post that some donors who give to nonprofits for use in political campaigns will have their names made public, beginning tomorrow.
“This is a great day for transparency and democracy,” Noah Bookbinder, director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, who brought the case, said in a statement. “We’re about to know a lot more about who is funding our elections.”
This decision is a big deal for the midterms, where many conservatives are barely holding on to majorities in House and Senate districts that could tip the balance of power in Congress. The new regulations may give big donors second thoughts about whether they should contribute in the crucial weeks before the election. And many of those dark money donors support conservatives.
“It’s unfortunate that citizens and groups who wish to advocate for their candidate will now have to deal with a lot of uncertainty less than two months before the election,” Hunter, a Republican appointed by George W. Bush, told the Post.
The decision will be appealed, but for now, the old regulations are out.
“Moving forward, these groups will need to disclose to the public any donor that gave money for the purpose of influencing a federal election, regardless of whether they want to sponsor a particular race or specific communication,” Matthew Sanderson, an elections law expert, told the Post. “Some groups will not need to adjust their approach to raising funds, but this will be a significant change for others.”