William Mitchell Law Review

Publication Information

31 William Mitchell Law Review 55 (2004-2005)


[T]his article will look at the tax law's definitions of “political” activity by § 501(c)(3)s, other § 501(c)s, and § 527s, identifying the many points of congruence and the occasional important differences. We further attempt to explain why the FEC's detour onto the slippery pavement of tax law led to this crash, and why attempts to follow the tax law's definitions of political activity will inevitably lead regulatory efforts astray. The legal roads of tax and election law begin from different policy rationales, intersect in seemingly similar concepts, but then proceed to wildly different legal destinations. We conclude with a discussion of why, as a matter of constitutional law, laws that suffice for tax purposes are fatally flawed for election law uses. It is our hope that this analysis will at least steer proponents of campaign finance reform away from another foreseeable crash.