With 18 weeks left until Election Day, End Citizens United (ECU) is spotlighting Representative Peter Roskam and taking a look back on what earned him a spot as one of ECU “Big Money 20.”
Less than three years ago, Roskam wrote a bill that would have prohibited the IRS from requiring non-profit “dark” money groups to identify contributors in annual returns. The move would’ve turned these secretive groups, which are already black holes when it comes to public disclosure, with the ability to hide any and all information about their donors from any regulatory authorities.
While Roskam claimed that the bill was aimed at saving tax-exempt groups money on administrative costs, campaign finance experts quickly called the legislation what it was – a major boon for dark money groups. Under Roskam’s bill, these groups, which already do not publicly disclose their political spending or donors, could also shield donor information from the IRS. It would have eliminated the agency’s ability to identify whether the groups were following the law and created a loophole for foreign governments to move money through political active groups. The bill was supported by a coalition of conservative and dark money groups, including the Koch Brothers, Citizens United, and the U.S. Chamber of Congress, all which spent undisclosed money in elections on members like Roskam, and heavily lobbied Congress on the bill.
Roskam’s bill passed in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, but failed to make it through the Senate. Despite his failure in the Senate, Roskam’s anti-reform legacy has remained intact, as he repeatedly voted against the DISCLOSE Act, supported efforts to repeal the Johnson Amendment; voted against an amendment which would’ve overturned Citizens United, and attempted to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, the independent ethics watchdog group of the House of Representatives.