By Naomi Jagoda
The Wall Street Journal editorial board is urging the House to pass a bill that would stop the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from collecting information about the identities of donors to tax-exempt groups.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), was approved by the House Ways and Means Committee last month on a party-line vote. “Mr. Roskam’s bill is worth moving to the House floor,” the Journal’s conservative editorial board said.
Currently, tax-exempt groups have to provide the IRS with information about donors who contribute more than $5,000. While the information is supposed to be private, there have been cases where the information has been made public in the past.
“Sloppy handling of data that includes home addresses threatens donors with potential harassment,” the WSJ editorial board said, adding that IRS officials have said the agency is debating whether the donor information is needed for tax enforcement.
The bill is strongly opposed by Democrats and liberal groups such as Public Citizen. They are concerned that the bill would make it easier for foreign people and governments to illegally donate to U.S. elections.
The New York Times’s liberal-leaning editorial board also came out against the bill last month, saying, “Enabling foreigners to join this dark money debacle would be disastrous.”
But the Journal editors said audits could still be conducted to find out if foreign money is being used to influence U.S. politics.
“The real progressive interest in donor disclosure is to use the information as a political weapon,” they said. “Leaked selectively, donor lists suppress the speech of political rivals.”