Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Karl Dean, Super PACman

Nashville City Paper writer, J.R. Lind observes that the Mayor Karl Dean's budget never really needed the help in Metro Council that Moving Nashville Forward, for which Dean was the major donor, provided. Then Lind wonders what former CM Erik Cole (co-leader of MNF, married to a Dean appointee) will tell us about his operation as well as how that operation could help Hizzoner realize some future aspirations:

There were, Cole insists, other donors. Who are they? Well, he’ll tell us. Eventually.

Or will he?

Cole said he intends to create Moving Nashville Forward as a 501(c)(4) — the Jan Brady of the 501(c) portion of the tax code. These types of groups are, under the law, “operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare” and, unlike their more famous sister the 501(c)(3), can lobby for legislation.

For years, 501(c)(4) groups were forgotten, beloved only by the persnickety secretary-treasurers of neighborhood associations. But, thanks to a handful of judicial decisions, they have a fancier name — Super PACs. And that gives them a special status: They are under no obligation to release the names of their donors.

If Cole follows through on his promise to create this 501(c)(4) — and it’s curious Moving Nashville Forward wasn’t organized before now — Hizzoner will have sown the seeds indeed: not just for grassroots tax-increase support, but for unlimited expenditures for any future political aspirations.  

It is curious that there is no record of MNF's organization as a 501(c)(4) previously. How long were they going to let that go on after receiving such a large donation from Karl Dean, thus threatening the legality of their machine-like politics?

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