Just How Much Will the Crossroads Ruling Change Disclosure Rules for 2018? Probably Not as Much as You Think

In my post about the Supreme Court’s denial of a stay in the Crossroads campaign disclosure case, I wrote that it “does not solve all of the current disclosure problems, but this is a victory for transparency.”

I stand by that but it is important not to overstate things. Some have trumpeted the ruling as somehow ending the role of dark money in elections.  It’s not that.

To begin with, groups can run issue ads that don’t expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate to avoid this disclosure rule.

Second, groups will use money funneled via other 501c(4)s, Super PACs, and LLCs to avoid some disclosure rules. If they do this, action from the FEC is years away at best.

Third, the FEC has not (and won’t have time to) set up a new rule in time for the 2018 elections. So there may still be fighting about what exactly groups must do in 2018.

This could be a bigger help in 2020, but by then who knows where things will go, especially as the Supreme Court could shift against disclosure if and when a new Justice joins the Court.

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