In an abrupt reversal of Chief Justice John Roberts’ temporary stay of a lower court decision in a major campaign finance case, the full Supreme Court decided today to uphold the ruling and force Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS Political Action Committee to disclose the names of its donors, according to The Hill.
Roberts made what many people interpreted as a brazenly political move on Saturday when he issued an order temporarily halting the lower court’s ruling that invalidated a Federal Election Commission regulation that has allowed donors to so-called dark-money groups to remain anonymous.
The ruling by the full court upholds the lower court’s decision in the suit brought against Crossroads GPS by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). It will require that any dark money group that spends at least $250 in independent expenditures in a year—and could previously shield the identities of its donors—now must report every contributor who donated at least $200 during the past year.
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CREW’s victory in the case is seen as a major factor in increasing transparency in political advertising, where previously moneyed interests could anonymously sponsor “issue ads” that indirectly attacked the party or candidate on the opposing side of a contentious policy without the public being aware of their involvement.
The ruling will help citizens know when that ad claiming that universal health care is a horrible idea that will bring ruination to the American medical system is paid for by pharmaceutical companies and health insurance companies with a vested financial interest in the outcome.
The Hill has reported on the influence that the so-called “dark money” contributors have had on the electoral process:
“According to the Center for Responsive Politics, these “dark money” groups reported spending over $800 million between January 2010 and December 2016. “Dark money” refers to money given to certain organizations often used to influence elections, something that has become a hot-button issue since the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United ruling in 2010,” The Hill said.
The article cited the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Rifle Association (NRA), Dow Chemical, and Chevron as among the top 15 companies responsible for 75% of all dark money contributions that will now have to ply their influence campaigns in the bright light of transparency.