Michael Trister

Michael Trister is an attorney in Washington, D.C., who represents nonprofit organizations.

Recent Articles

The Rise and Reform of Stealth PACs

D uring the last week of June, as Congress was rushing toward its annual Fourth of July recess, the House and Senate abruptly acted to close the newest loophole in the federal election laws. Under an obscure provision of the Internal Revenue Code, Section 527, largely unregulated organizations get all the tax benefits provided to political parties and political action committees operated by corporations, unions, and other groups. But unlike traditional political groups, a Section 527 organization can conceal both its donors and its beneficiaries. Thus, 527 organizations have been beautifully positioned to influence elections, free from scrutiny--hence the nickname "stealth PACs." The new law, for the first time, requires public disclosure. Section 527 organizations have been established by trade groups and wealthy individuals close to candidates in order to mask who is actually providing funds. Republicans for Clean Air, a 527 organization reportedly funded by Sam and Charles Wyly,...