Jacob Sullum

This week the Times followed up with a front-page piece about nonprofit corporations organized under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code, which were barred from airing campaign ads prior to Citizens United and still are not allowed to focus on partisan political activity. The Times reported that the 501(c)(4) approach is becoming increasingly popular among Republicans, partly because such groups do not have to disclose their donors.

But how shadowy are these groups, really? The leading example cited by the Times was Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, which it linked to "Karl Rove, a political adviser to President George W. Bush," and "a cadre of experienced political hands." Hmm, I wonder what they're up to.

Toward the end of his speech on Saturday, Obama accidentally told the truth. "You can make sure that the tens of millions of dollars spent on misleading ads do not drown out your voice," he said. "Because no matter how many ads they run -- no matter how many elections they try to buy -- the power to determine the fate of this country doesn't lie in their hands. It lies in yours."

Exactly right, Mr. President. No matter how shadowy or flush with corporate dollars an interest group is, the only thing Citizens United allowed it to do is speak. Advocacy has no impact unless it persuades people. So why not talk about the issues instead of impugning the motives of people who take a different position on them than you do?


Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
 
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