Study:Planned Parenthood chapter No. 1 campaign finance violator; Sanders campaign blasts TBOR proposal

 December 11th, 2015 by Take Back Action Team
Take Back Action Fund did not plan an email update until next year, but surprising developments required an emergency conference call this morning and this update:
  1. Bernie Sanders' spokesman dismisses Take Back Our Republic-backed campaign finance reform (see Al Jazeera post here) as "A Solution in Search of a Problem"
  2. Media outlets in the Mideast and Russia both focus stories on credit card loophole
  3. Planned Parenthood chapter spent 89% of $585,236 funds on political activity (Open Secrets study), leading to new support by TBAF for disclosure for c-4s that disregard the 50% limit
  4. Congressmen Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Walter Jones (R-NC) and I push reform legislation at a press conference

1. The headline in Al-Jazeera story from Bernie Sanders' campaign quote

The "search" for the problem would not take long. A quick read of USA Today a couple of weeks ago indicates an overseas religious movement appears to have given campaign contributions in the names of Americans of modest means who knew nothing about the candidates to whom they supposedly contributed. Keep in mind it was the Washington Post that reported the $174,000 that was given to President Obama's campaign in the name of a lady who said she had never given ANYTHING to the campaign. To be clear, we are not suggesting in any way that the campaign knew anything about this attempt to illegally contribute to someone else's name. But with bad actors - some overseas - willing to go so far as to give money IN THE NAME OF Americans, it is hard to believe there is no problem with those same people having someone type in thousands of $200 credit card contributions to a campaign that was not verifying the addresses supplied, with virtually no chance of being discovered.

2. Media Outlets Based in Mideast and Russia Apparently Take Loophole Seriously

Bad groups and individuals overseas are certainly aware of how easy it is to make these contributions, as both the official Russian newspaper Sputnik, and now the Mideastern media outlet Al-Jazeera wrote about one of two press conferences on this loophole. There are clearly groups and people in Russia, the Mideast, and through every region of the world that have money and a great incentive to impact US elections and policy. Why make it easy to have a bunch of people key in one credit card contribution after another without using the banks NORMAL verification process that is currently used unless a campaign opts out.

3. Planned Parenthood Biggest Violator of Limit on Political Spending in Open Secrets Report

Even political campaigns themselves do not spend 89% of their money on politics - there is always some overhead (rent, legal, accounting etc.). Therefore the Open Secrets report that a Planned Parenthood Chapter in St. Louis spent 89% of their money over a four year period - $523,006 - on politics was hard to imagine. In fact, while they were not the only violator, six of the top 13 violators in the report was by Planned Parenthood chapters. 
I was quoted in this story the same day as Congressman Gosar's press conference (see next item), but had not seen the staggering numbers at that time.
While Take Back Action Fund (TBAF, a 501c4 itself) has supported the education papers outlining the policies of Take Back Our Republic (TBOR, a 501c3), this report led to an emergency call with those involved only with TBAF (Board member, top Volunteer Coordinator, etc. who do NOT hold positions with TBOR) to discuss how to address this report. TBAF would like to go further than the position papers outlined on the TBOR website and require that any 501c4 that willfully disregards the 50% limit (allocating over 60% toward political or repeatedly topping 50%) must disclose all donors. We want this to apply regardless of ideology, and if a pro-life group were spending anywhere near 89% of its total revenue on electing candidates TBAF would apply the same rule, just as we would voluntarily disclose donors if we did the same thing out of our budget (which in 2015 is a tiny fraction of these Planned Parenthood budgets, and we are nowhere near 50% of expenditures).

4. Congressmen Gosar, Gohmert, and Jones Unveil Legislation

In addition to advocating the new policy above, the members of TBAF were also supportive of the first legislation to come out of an Education Papers produced by TBOR. Despite being introduced at the end of the Congressional Session, two dozen Members of Congress co-sponsored the legislation despite it being introduced just days before the recess. The photo shows (left to right) me, Congressmen Paul Gosar (R-AZ), and Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX). Walter Jones (R-NC) is unfortunately not in the photo because he arrived from other Congressional matters shortly after photographer left.  
The bottom line is this: In our quest for conservative solutions to campaign finance reform, we continue to strongly encourage conservatives to acknowledge Americans are fed up our current campaign finance system, which is why it was right up there with homeland security, size of government and taxes according to viewers of the last GOP debate. I also encourage progressives who have backed campaign finance reform not to in turn attack the first campaign finance reform proposal that introduced by some Republicans (and a couple of Democrats I will note).
This legislation is a chance for both to come together on one solution to one of many problems.
John Pudner, President
Take Back Action Fund


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