Independent Expenditures

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has reportedly been investigating 501(c)(4) organizations that have been involved in political activities. According to the New York Times, his office has sent letters to nearly two dozen groups seeking information about their activities.  The exact aim of this investigation is not clear, but commentators have suggested that it

Outside groups have become a potent political force in the 2012 election campaign. Unleashed by the Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case and subsequent lower court rulings, such groups can raise unlimited sums from individuals and corporations for ads and other spending that is not “coordinated” with a candidate. The most dramatic example:

In the wake of the corruption scandal involving former Governor Rod Blagojevich, Illinois adopted its first-ever limits on campaign contributions. Individuals could give candidates up to $5,000 per election, and corporations could give candidates up to $10,000. At a signing ceremony for the bill, held on the one-year anniversary of Blagojevich’s arrest, Governor Pat Quinn

The IRS recently revoked the 501(c)(4) status of an organization that identifies and trains potential candidates for one of the political parties. In doing so, the IRS borrowed a restriction from the law governing 501(c)(3)s, which requires such groups to serve a public rather than a private interest. There are reasons to doubt whether this