Sen. Carl Levin Plans to Grill The IRS Over Dark Money

Sen. Carl Levin, right, in the Detroit Red Wings jersey.<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/peopleforcherry/3566431923/sizes/m/in/photostream/">People for Cherry</a>/Flickr

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In his Tuesday column, the New York Times‘ Joe Nocera hails Democrat Carl Levin, the tough, irascible senior senator from Michigan who will retire at the end of his sixth term in December 2014. Nocera calls Levin “the Senate’s muckraker,” and he’s right: As the top Democrat on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Levin has probed shady mortgage dealings, the dark world of derivatives, feckless ratings agencies, and more. He famously said “shitty deal” a dozen times during a hearing with Goldman Sachs executives on, well, Goldman’s shitty mortgage deals.

At the end of his column, Nocera drops in this juicy detail:

Toward the end of my interview with Levin, he let slip a tantalizing tidbit. Sometime in the next few months, the permanent subcommittee plans to call the Internal Revenue Service to task for allowing the political super PACs to be classified as tax-exempt 501(c)(4)s. “Tax-exempt 501(c)(4)s are not supposed to be engaged in politics,” he said. “It is against the law to do so.” Then he added, with a certain undeniable relish, “We’re going to go after them.”

Oh, boy!

Oh, boy, indeed! Finally, someone in power plans to grill the IRS on why it is allowing hundreds of millions of dollars in secret money to flow through supposedly nonpartisan “social welfare organizations” and into our elections. Levin’s comments aren’t a complete surprise. In his retirement announcement, Levin said his investigative subcommittee will “look into the failure of the IRS to enforce our tax laws and stem the flood of hundreds of millions of secret dollars flowing into our elections, eroding public confidence in our democracy.”

We’re keenly interested in dark money here at Mother Jones, and as Mother Jones‘ own dark money reporter—yep, it’s there in my bio—I can’t wait to see what Levin digs up. Levin and his staff declined multiple interview requests, so you’ll just have to keep an eye on this space as the story develops.

More MotherJones reporting on Dark Money

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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