When I was a young man we still had the same fights over campaign finance, but the discussion at that time was about things like 529s and hard and soft money. After McCain-Feingold was passed things evolved and the rich found other ways to circumnavigate the campaign finance landscape. The current loophole is perhaps one of the most devious, non-profits.
To give you some information, legally a 501c3 social welfare organization can participate in politics as long as it doesn't constitute 50% of it's activity or expenditures, although oversight on this is lax. Additionally, 501c3's do not have to release their donors. This is a legal precedent that goes back to the days of the NAACP when white Southern Democrats wanted to know who was fighting their KKK and it was necessary to keep donors protected or they would be targeted. However, now many of these organizations have been co-opted exclusively for use as political organizations.
In Montana political 501c3's are everywhere. From League of Conservation Voters to League of Women Voters to Forward Montana and MontPIRG, leftists dark money groups are supported, legitimized by the press and even given huge platforms in news. For some reason we talk about dark money a lot in Montana and despite the fact that most of these organizations exist solely to promote Democrats and spend their money electing Democrats and feed them voter information to win elections, they are never treated the same way as the few remaining dark money non-profits on the right. Bryce Bennett ran TWO statewide ballot initiative drives in 2018 with hundreds of thousands dollars from taxpayer owned and funded buildings, and nobody seems to give a shit. I was intimately involved with the six-mill levy campaign so I saw the millions the corporate bankers and health care industries brought in along with help from D.C. and Seattle consulting firms. Gwen Florio sure has a hard on for religious bootcamps but seems to have little problem to dark money flooding Missoula and the rest of the state as long as it's approved by corporately funded Dems.
The top picture is a fundraising mail piece I get from the USO, an actual charity that works to help American troops before, during and after their deployments. I have a good friend who served and now volunteers there during his retirement.
The bottom picture is campaign fundraising I can never get away from since if you ever give any politician any amount of money you will be immortalized in some fundraising list sold and resold forever.. The thing I want to show you is the post mark. They both say "non-profit."
Did you know that Democrats and Republicans came together in "bipartisan" support to give themselves exclusive rights to forego paying regular postage for their fundraising mail? Oh yes, because nothing perpetuates a two-party system of corporatists like allowing yourself to bypass paying for regular things like stamps.
Why does this matter? Because it makes it legitimate. Even though groups like Forward Montana and the rest are expressly political in their unwavering belief to do nothing but get future Democrats to vote and their information firmly in the hand of the Democratic Party, they are treated like legitimate charities that actually help people. Several times a year there are major "charitable" fundraising drives like Missoula Gives or Bozeman Gives that tell everyone in town to give money to these "charities" like Forward Montana, never mentioning 100% of their work just goes to help Democrats.
If you didn't know in the state of Montana you actually have an option if you owe enough in state income tax to forego paying your taxes to give to the University System. When Greg Gianforte or Dennis Washington are honored by MSU or UM for their multi-million dollar donations that end with their names on an entire state-owned building, are they really being charitable? If I owed $10 million in taxes and my options were write a check to Helena or get wooed and dined by government officials with a special ceremony and news articles saying how "charitable" I was, why the fuck would you ever choose just paying taxes, right? Nobody ever talks about how the University gets money before the Department of Revenue can have a say.
Additionally, when Trump reformed the tax system by raising the standard deductions and exemptions he basically eliminated the ability of regular people to write off charitable donations on their taxes. You must have given at least as much as your standard deduction to write off even a dollar of charitable donations on your taxes. This is $12,200 for single people and $24,400 for married filers. How many people do you know who gives $25,000 a year away in charitable donations? Unless you give that much in a year, this charitable giving deduction is completely useless.
One thing that's really annoyed me is the CEOs of places like Montana Food Bank and Missoula Aging Services coming out in the newspaper and telling people that we need to vote for more social welfare and direct payments.
First, I thought the actual concept of charity involved sacrifice. This means you made a conscious choice to do good for others since you could use the money for other reasons than helping others, but you CHOOSE to help. This is a concept lost on most Democrats now, as they equate government social programs with charity, despite the fact that you have no choice whether to participate or not. Taxes are something you HAVE to pay normally, you get no choice in the matter.
Second, most of the money that is earmarked for these programs goes to staffing, not direct payments. Have you ever heard of a person who loves to help others but is incapable of doing so without a cushy 9-5, M-F workweek? 3-4 weeks of paid vacation? 13 sick days per year? $30k-40k of benefits including Cadillac level health benefits and full retirement after 20 years? I have a friend who works at the HHS office on Palmer and he just got a $5/hr raise and didn't even realize it. Before the Indy folded they did a study of private vs public sector workers and found in Montana they average DOUBLE the salary of the private sector counterparts and that's before benefits are even added in. What charitable people to do this for so little! LOL Like education, we dangle the poor, the needy and children in the faces of people to open their wallets and never tell them about the huge salaries of public workers they are really funding.
So when the CEOs of "charities" come out and tell people they need to vote for more funding for "seniors" what they're really saying is I'm too lazy in my job to go get donations, so I'll write an op-ed in the Missoulian telling people who to vote for instead. There is so much overlap between these "charities" and government positions I guess it's no surprise, they are probably just prepping their own future salaries. Also, the thing that is never pointed out is how little actually goes to the people who need it. When only 30 cents of every taxpayer dollar goes to "charity," is it really that charitable, noble or defensible?
What is going on nationally? Highlighting police brutality, even if it seems to come exclusively from Democratically controlled areas, and publicly shaming anyone who doesn't comply has realistically gotten MILLIONS in personal and corporate donations to Black Lives Matter and their associates. I've gotten about a dozen emails now from everyone from Door Dash to Hotels.com bragging about all the good work they're doing for racial justice and the millions they're donating to black causes.
Consider 2016. Democrat's classic problem is how to get their more apathetic bases to turn out to vote. Of course black people will come out to vote for Obama, but an old white grandma who called them "super predators."??? Not so much.
But look what we have now. In 2016 black people didn't vote and Democrats got Trump. They won't make the same mistake. And getting the corporate overlords to get great PR, keep the BLM targets off their backs, and simultaneously fully fund all the organizations that will be doing Get Out the Vote for black people in November? What's not to lose?
And think about this, while regular people won't be writing off hardly any of their "charity" when it comes tax time, every single one of these large corporations will have larger profits since they can write off their contributions as "charitable." This means more profit for rich shareholders, and governments will deal with less tax revenue, which will of course renew more calls for more taxes and more debt on the backs of regular people.
EDIT: I'm adding a video from a Youtuber I follow here as well that came out just after I posted this. This guy often goes in depth on how shitty the corporations that make video games operate. I really like this guy. I know you don't like video, but you ought to rethink that. You could turn your blog posts into videos if you got a little equipment ;)
My name is Tim. I'm no longer invited to any parties. This blog is for Greg Strandberg and no one else.