Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nonprofits as the bad guys

Today at Stanford we're holding our #ReCodeGood charrette on Citizens United: Are Nonprofits People, Too? This post from Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill, couldn't have been more timely. It raises several issues about transparency, trust, disclosure, advocacy, and anonymity. The question Roll Call asks, which we'll be grappling with is:
“I think there is a lot of concern in the nonprofit community about this,” said Leslie Lenkowsky, an Indiana University professor who studies nonprofits. “The problem is: What do you do about it? It’s hard to see a solution that’s workable.”
We'll be looking for workable solutions. We're particularly honored to be joined by Rick Hasen, of UC Irvine's law school, who posted his materials on his Election Law blog, along with Dan Newman of Maplight.org, which uses data and visualizations to reveal relationships between money and politics, colleagues from the Sunlight Foundation, Independent Sector, several local foundations and invited participation from the California Attorney General's Office and the Fair Political Practices Commission. Finally, Jane Mayer of The New Yorker is joining us - her articles State for Sale and Covert Operations are critical reads on this topic.

Listeners to NPR's Morning Edition may have heard Peter Overby's first in a series on the big donors to SuperPACS in this Presidential election. Overby explains why the disclosure rules on 501 c (4)s - which are not required to disclose their donors but do report their expenditures - obscure just how much more money might actually be flowing from these and other individuals through social welfare nonprofits. NPR also has an interactive on other "SuperPAC Superdonors."

1 comment:

Tony Macklin said...

Hi Lucy,
Caught the NPR report too. Quick scan shows little crossover between that SuperPAC list and top donor lists at Chronicle of Philanthropy, Forbes, Giving Pledge Signers. Huntsmans cross all 3. Maybe your data geek friends can mash up the info...