There's been a lot of writing over the last three decades about the blurring of boundaries between nonprofits, governments, and markets.
These analyses usually focus on the use of profit-generating tactics by nonprofits (blurring them with market institutions), the growing involvement of nonprofits in public policy (usually discussed either in terms of dark money or organizations with multiple tax statuses such as c3s and c4s), and the use by governments of philanthropy-style incentives (e.g. prizes or matching grants) or direct government involvement in supporting specific companies the way investors do. The whole social enterprise movement is an example of blurring lines between philanthropy and business.
In this context, this story of a government "watchdog" group is fascinating. The article describes how every inquiry into the group by a reporter is met with a different classification claim. Starting in 2021, it claimed to be a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, then it removed the 501 (c) 3 part, then in 2022 it referred to itself in a lawsuit as “an unincorporated association of retired and former public servants and concerned citizens that is dedicated to restoring public trust in government.” And then, in January 2023, it labeled itself simply “a collection of individuals.”
Needless to say, whatever it is, it has not been filing any paperwork or tax documents that might explain who is involved and where the money is coming from.
Just in time for the 2024 U.S. Presidential election, which we can expect to be defined by AI generated information warfare online, we should also be on the lookout for more of these "deepfaked" IRL organizations.
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