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Donald B. Tobin
The Frank E. and Virginia H. Bazler Designated Professor in Business Law and a senior fellow at Election Law @ Moritz explains the nuances of social welfare organizations and federal regulations related to them.
The latest election law news from across the country...last updated May 24 (9:15 AM).
Professor Donald Tobin was interviewed by the Boston NPR station on its show Here & Now about the Internal Revenue Service's investigation into groups classified as social welfare organizations (marked by the 501(c)(4) tax classification). The IRS was in search of groups that are not focusing primarly on the social welfare of the country, but have a strong political advocacy facet. Political advocacy groups might want to be classified as 501(c)(4) organizations because under that classification they do not have to disclose their donors.
"The key is if you are going to be engaged in candidate-type advocacy, and if you're going to intervene in elections and engage in election advocacy, we want disclosure of who your donors are," Tobin said.
“What groups are trying to do here is avoid having to disclose,” Tobin continued. “By earning the classification of social welfare, they’re avoiding the campaign disclosure that’s required for political organizations. So that’s really the underpinning of why we have this mess of the IRS having to get in and investigate and figure out whether an organization is political or not.”
Issue: Original Issues: (1) Whether Ohio's voter ID laws are unconstitutional as "confusing, vague, and impossible to apply" in violation of the right to vote; whether the laws are unconstitutional because they apply only to in-person voters and not to absentee voters; whether they are unconstitutional because they may bar voters who do not have required identification from voting on Election Day; whether they are unconstitutional because only some forms of ID must have current address; whether they are unconstitutional as a poll tax. (2) Whether Ohio's provisional-ballot laws are unconstitutionally vague and therefore violate Equal Protection and Due Process.
Current Issue: Whether an April 2010 Consent Decree requiring that provisional ballots improperly voted as a result of poll worker error still be counted is valid under Ohio law.