By Brodie Putz
South Carolina lawmakers on Tuesday delayed voting on legislation that would require political groups to reveal their donors’ names, addresses and employers.
The bill, introduced by Sen. Hugh Leatherman, D-Florence, drew dissenting testimonies from several advocacy groups including the Concerned Veterans of America, an organization with ties to the libertarian-leaning Koch organization run by brothers Charles and David Koch.
The Kochs, who head one of the largest privately-owned companies in the U.S., have spent millions through their political foundations and non-profits to influence American conservative causes.
Nathan Anderson, deputy executive director of the CVA, said that the transparency of groups like his own are not the real target of the bill.
“This legislation, as well-meaning as it may sound, is dangerous and misguided,” he said. “This information is not to provide ‘transparency’ as the proponents of this bill claim. Instead it’s intended to spotlight the supporters of non-profit organizations so that opponents can threaten, harass, and intimidate them for their beliefs. It is an attempt to silence speech.”
But lawmakers, including Sen. Kevin Johnson, D-Clarendon, worry that so-called “dark money” organizations use donations to support or defeat legislation without explaining to voters who bankrolls the organizations.
“I don’t buy that,” he said. “If I stand for something, if you stand for something, then you should man up and say so. You shouldn’t have to hide behind nonprofits.”
The proposed bill would require political groups to disclose information on their donors who contribute $1,000 or more. How donations are spent would also be revealed. The bill would not limit how much one can donate.