Koch-Backed Bill Does Nothing for Actual Free Speech
Posted on May 3, 2016
Last Thursday, the House Ways and Means has reported out a bill supported by the Koch brothers and based, as usual, on a lie. In this case, the lie is that the bill will protect the American right to engage in anonymous free speech. Granted that there should be, and is, such a right. However what this bill actually does is something entirely different: it protects the (already existing) de facto privilege for rich people to exercise scurrilous anonymous speech illegally subsidized by a tax loophole. I say it is illegal, because the 501(c)(3) tax loophole is supposed to be used only for socially worthy purposes such as education and research, and not for partisan propaganda. I say it is currently existing, because much of, and probably a majority of, money flowing through the Kochtopus empire makes illegal use of 501(c)(3) anonymity. I say the privilege is reserved for the rich, because most people cannot afford to own their very own 501(c)(3) organization.
Now granted, no one is supposed to “own” a 501(c)(3), because they are “public” or “independent” charities. If you believe that I have a bridge for sale. Some are in some sense public or independent, and some are not.
There are many good reasons to protect unsubsidized anonymity, if it does not amount to a campaign contribution. As a fact of nature, whistleblowers nearly always get retaliated against. Anonymous tips are the main way that information leaks out about antisocial conspiracies. Even in the absence of secret information, anonymous criticism is often the only truly free speech available under small town tyrannies, which are quite common.
But this privilege of dark money does not fall anywhere near under that principle.