As Democracy Now! has previously reported, one of every four dollars spent on the campaign ads, direct mail and robocalls that target voters now comes from so-called "dark money" organizations. The IRS lets these groups keep their donors secret because they are considered "social welfare non-profits." But that changed this past Friday when a Montana judge ordered the release of one such group’s bank records. An investigation had found that Western Tradition Partnership may have misled the IRS about the extent of its political activities, and that citizens have a right to know where its campaign cash was coming from. The group is known for bringing a lawsuit to the Supreme Court that successfully challenged Montana’s ban on corporate spending in elections, and the resulting ruling extended the court’s Citizens United decision to include all 50 states. Friday’s ruling marks the first time a court has ordered a dark money group’s donors to be made public, and some say the judge’s move could serve as a warning to similar organizations. Kim Barker, the ProPublica reporter who helped break the story along with PBS Frontline, joins DN!
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