Saturday, May 18, 2013


Our elected representatives write a law in plain english---in this case one that says non-profit organizations must be "exclusively" for the promotion of social welfare (above). Then a bunch of un-elected bureaucrats decide that congress didn't really mean what they said. Instead, the bureaucrats claim that when congress wrote the word "exclusively" what they actually meant was "primarily." Hmm. Do those two words mean the same thing to you? Me neither.

So the folks we elected said that in order to qualify as a not-for-profit organization you must always be doing social welfare, and never be doing anything else (like political advertising). But the people we did not elect decided (on their own) that non-profits could take a break from all that boring "social welfare" stuff and get into a little side business--like raising gazillions of dollars from anonymous donors to spend on nasty and mostly false political ads.

That little tax loophole, though unquestionably unlawful, is big enough for Super PACs to drive a truck through---which is exactly what they are doing with impunity.

When we speak about government by consent of the governed, we mean that the laws we agree to abide by, must be written by the folks we elected. Their words matter. Because every period and semi-colon of every statute that has ever made it from an original draft, to a committee mark-up, to a public hearing, to floor debates, to amendments in both the House and Senate, to a conference committee report, and finally to a signing ceremony, deserves to be respected as written.

And only the people we elected to write those laws in the first place get to change the words or their meaning---not bureaucrats, not judges, only legislators.

When a law is vague or just plain stupid we have only ourselves to blame for the people we chose to write it. But when a law is simple and straightforward, shame on us for standing by silently while a bunch of back room bureaucrats twist its clear public intent to their own private purposes.

(Kudos to MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell for first pointing this out. --np)