WASHINGTON—A new nonprofit advocacy group created by President Biden’s allies won’t set a limit on how much money it will raise and won’t disclose the identities of its donors, the organization said Saturday.
who will lead the nonprofit, said in a statement that the organization “will not limit donations” but won’t receive contributions from for-profit corporations or their political-action committees, from donors who work for fossil-fuel companies or from lobbyists. “We will also leave it up to individual donors on whether to publicly release their donations,” she said.
The organization’s decision on funding was first reported by Axios.
The new group, whose formation was first reported by The Wall Street Journal in February, will be a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, allowing it to operate without disclosing its donors. Similar groups have been criticized by government ethics groups and Democrats such as Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, for being able to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence public policy without the transparency required of campaigns, political parties and super PACs. Those groups must disclose, in regular public filings, names and other information about contributors who give more than $200.
The White House won’t directly oversee the nonprofit, but top Biden officials, including senior adviser Anita Dunn and deputy chief of staff Jen O’Malley Dillon, were involved in early discussions about the group’s structure and assembled a group of Democratic strategists and campaign veterans to organize it.
The White House declined to comment on the group’s decision and referred questions to the Building Back Together statement.
The organization, which intends to formally launch in the next month, is modeled after the Common Purpose Project, an Obama-era 501(c)(4) nonprofit that helped bring together progressive organizations for weekly meetings and promote the president’s agenda. That group, which is no longer active, limited donations from individuals to $50,000 and voluntarily disclosed names of donors.
But many rival organizations have refrained from imposing those kinds of restrictions in recent years. Supporters of former President Donald Trump created America First Policies in 2017, a nonprofit that was staffed by former Trump campaign aides and didn’t disclose donors.
The group had an affiliated super PAC and aired ads promoting Republican proposals on healthcare, among other issues. It also held fundraisers where donors could get face time with White House officials and members of Congress.
Ms. Melfi, who served as the Biden campaign’s state director for Wisconsin, said the group is “playing by the rules of today’s system, and will hold ourselves to the same standard as many other outside groups working to impact the direction of this country.”
Mr. Biden, in his campaign pledges, called for more transparency among political nonprofits involved in elections. Mr. Biden’s campaign said at the time he would seek legislation to bar “social welfare” nonprofit groups, such as Building Back Together, from spending in elections and would ensure that “any entity of any kind that spends more than $10,000 on federal elections” must register with a Commission on Federal Ethics, which Mr. Biden intends to propose, “and publicly disclose its donors,” according to his campaign website.
His legislation would also require campaigns and outside groups that run ads within 60 days of an election to disclose any new contributions within 48 hours.
Building Back Together has said it would be geared toward policy instead of elections, avoiding organizational conflicts within the Democratic Party that were partly blamed for poor midterm election results during the Obama years. The group is expected to run advertisements promoting the president’s policies and coordinate with existing nonprofit advocacy organizations on issues such as Covid-19, climate change and the economy.
a former research director for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign who has advocated for more campaign-finance disclosure, said the arrangement ran counter to the spirit of Mr. Biden’s government reform agenda. “It is violating the notion that you’re going to clean up campaigning or make it more transparent,” Mr. Brody said.
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Source: WSJ – US News