I was listening to NPR last night as they discussed the concept of "Social Welfare Organizations" like Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity and how they don't have to identify their donors, with Karl Rove and his ilk even going as far as to say he'll never reveal the names of his donors and he has lots of powerful washington lawyers to crush any attempt to force him to reveal the names of his donors, this wondrance crossed my mind:
The purpose of an advertisement is to convince the public to purchase a product. In the case of a "Social Welfare Organization" their product is a politician. Essentially they want us, as tax payers, to purchase the services of the candidates they support by voting them into office. Now for any other product, it will be identified who purchased the advertizing whether it be Toyota, Nissan, Chevy, or any other manufacturer. We know who's buying the advertisement and we can determine whether or not to purchase a given product based on our perception of the product being advertised. In the case of a politician, we often have no idea who's actually purchasing the advertising because the "Social Welfare Organizations" who often purchase that advertising are actually middle men IMO, they buy the advertising on behalf of someone else. So, my logic went, we, as a population have a right to know who is trying to convince us to purchase the services of a given politician. Yet, these "Social Welfare Organizations," which have about as much to do with social welfare as Apple has to do with microwave ovens, insist on keeping the indentities of their donors secret.
So, I got to thinking, with the FEC not willing to do anything, the IRS not racing to immediately strip the tax free status of these organizations for being what they are, blatantly political, can we, as the electorate file suit as a class affected by this advertizing, against these "Social Welfare Organizations" to force them to disclose the full first and last name plus corporate affiliation of their donors. The purpose of this disclosure would be so that we as consumers can take proper supportive or retaliatory action for or against those donors, as in, either choose to buy or not to buy the products of the company they represent depending on whether or not we agree with political agenda that individual is trying to advance, or if they chose not to name names, require the SWO to cease their advertising?
Nevermind the massive resoures that would be used to try and defeat such a class action suit, could such a thing succeed?