A national tea party group is asking for permission to keep their donors secret — just like the socialists. Citing a long litany of harassment examples, the Tea Party Leadership Fund is asking the Federal Election Commission for the same right granted to the Socialist Workers Party to shield the names and information of their donors from the public. In a new request to the FEC shared with POLITICO, the group argues that tea party donors and activists are being targeted for harassment by government officials and private groups — and they cite derogatory comments by politicians and overbearing government investigations as evidence. “Nobody likes the communists and really for good reason,” said Dan Backer, the attorney for the group who wrote and filed the complaint. But, Backer said, the same legal principle that grants left-wring groups the right to hide their donors should also cover tea party groups.
… While some political nonprofits are able to shield their donors, federal law requires that PACs, political parties and candidates make public the names, employers and addresses of their donors.
In recent cycles, though, political nonprofits, organized as 501(c)4s or 501(c)6 organizations, have also emerged as a major political force for the reasons of allowing anonymous money to be spent on political advertising. Those groups that are not required to disclosure their donors under IRS rules.
But federal courts and the FEC have recognized that minor party candidates and other political organizations can be entitled to exemptions from disclosure on behalf of their donors, if they might face government retribution or private harassment.
The only exemption ever granted by the FEC under this principle, however, is for the Socialist Workers Party. The self-described left-wing political party has been granted the right to keep donors secret since 1990 — a special exemption that was renewed as recently as 2013.