Hillary Clinton announced on Monday that she’s launching a new organization, Onward Together, to help educate, train and embolden her former supporters to oppose the Trump administration—but she’ll remain quiet on at least one issue key to progressive Democrats.
She’ll be following in President Obama’s footsteps, working as a “community organizer” to help empower other community organizers to “get involved.” According to Onward Together’s about page, she and her group will aim to “resist bullying, hate, falsehoods, and divisiveness, and stand up for a fairer, more inclusive America.”
But Clinton’s new organization isn’t a selfless, 501(c)(3) charity designed to help further democracy out of the goodness of her and her donors hearts. It’s a 501(c)(4), better known by Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters as a “dark money” organization.
Donations to 501(c)(4) organizations aren’t tax deductible, which means the organizations don’t have to disclose their donors—or, really much of their financial information at all.
When most Democrats think of 501(c)(4) organizations, they think of the Koch Brothers and their “nefarious” web of pressure groups who work to promote libertarian-leaning policies in the states. Allegedly, Lois Lerner, who worked inside the IRS researching conservative 501(c)(4) organizations, was trying to use the agencies resources to “connect the dots” on dark money flowing through the web.
During the Presidential campaign, Clinton routinely brought up “dark money” and “campaign finance reform,” even pledging on her campaign website to “get unaccountable money out of politics,” overturning the Citizens United decision that allowed corporations to give to 501(c)(4)s and SuperPACs without limit, and force outside groups, like her own, to disclose their donors in the name of transparency.
Onward Together won’t have to do any of that, and won’t be accountable to Americans who are legitimately concerned that too much money moves through secret back-channels in Washington.
And Clinton isn’t hesitating about fundraising. Given her experience with the Clinton Foundation, she’s already begun courting Democratic megadonors for funding for Onward Together.
Last week, she attended a dinner at the LA home of Haim Saban—purportedly a “thank you” event for her Hollywood donors. But Clinton already hosted a series of “thank you” events on both coasts, and its probably no coincidence that many of her major donors were all in the same room at the same time. Saban cut Clinton checks worth more than $12 million during her abortive Presidential campaign; its unlikely he’ll stop giving to her now.
But contrary to Clinton’s pledge, you won’t be able to check up on it. Because the “champion” of transparency will be keeping the money and power she wields a complete secret.