In a response to several questions raised by a Thursday Huffington Post article, the independent committee behind an ad linking Barack Obama to 60's-era radical William Ayers said it will disclose its individual donors to the FEC.
"American Issues Project is a 501(c)4 qualified nonprofit organization," spokesperson Christian Pinkston wrote in an email. "We adhere to all FEC and IRS requirements. We receive contributions only from individuals, as indicated on our website. Express advocacy and electioneering communications expenditures will comprise the minority of our activities over the next year, as required by law. Donors for these activities are disclosed through the appropriate FEC filings."
In one of the first news reports about the group, the Politico's Ben Smith suggested that the America Issues Project had claimed 501(c)4 status in order to keep its donor rolls secret while spending $2.8 million on a political ad airing in Ohio and Michigan.
But in order to stay within overlapping IRS regulations, the group has now committed to disclosure, as well as spending a sum greater than its $2.8 million Obama-Ayers ad buy in non-electioneering activities.
However, beyond the complex legal minutiae, there is a deeper irony. In attempting to assist John McCain, the America Issues Project is currently dancing around his single greatest legislative achievement: the Bi-Partisan Campaign Reform Act of 2003. On February 4, 2004, McCain spoke from the Senate floor against lax FEC interpretation of the iconic legislation.
"I think it is very important that as the Federal Election Commission is considering making these rules, that it be made very clear what the intent of the authors of the legislation was," McCain said, before quoting a Supreme Court reference to FEC electioneering standards. In an impassioned plea, McCain also said: "We do not, and will not, stand for the creation of new loopholes to violate this law."