The Internal Revenue Service says it won’t come out with new proposed rules for so-called dark money groups until late spring at the earliest, increasing the likelihood that no changes will take effect before the 2016 elections. These groups 2014 social welfare nonprofits that can engage in politics, but do not have to disclose their donors 2014 have become a major force in elections, pouring at least $257 million into the 2012 elections. The Wesleyan Media Project estimates that dark money paid for almost half the TV ads aired in the 2014 Senate races. The IRS originally issued a draft version of the rules for dark money groups more than a year ago, but withdrew them for revisions after receiving intense criticism from both ends of the political spectrum.
Some advocates of campaign finance reform have touted tighter IRS controls as the best shot of reining in the influence of such groups ahead of the 2016 presidential race.
Under the current IRS rules, social welfare nonprofits are allowed to spend money on politics as long as they are “primarily engaged in promoting in some way the common good and general welfare of the people of the community.” But it’s unclear exactly how much revenue groups can put toward politics, and which activities count as political.