July 28, 2011; Source: Los Angeles Times | Their television ads are ubiquitous more common than those obnoxious GEICO and Progressive insurance ads, and frequently competitively obnoxious. They are the tax-exempt 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations that get to engage in partisan political activity (using less than half of their assets) in support or opposition to specific candidates so long as they aren’t coordinating their messages with the candidates’ ones. Imagine: 501(c)(4)s coordinating their messages with candidate messaging. Preposterous!

So, when the public hears of “nonprofit” entities paying for some of the political ads you see with stupefyingly inane political messages of the left, right, and unknown, here’s some of the 501(c)(4)s that may be creating the nonprofit smoke and mirrors:

  • GrassTopsUSA is a politically conservative 501(c)(4) that prefers fax blasts to television ads. GrassTops quotes a disgusted Rush Limbaugh trying to understand House Speaker John Boehner, in an obvious attack on Republicans’ negotiations with the White House on the debt ceiling and budget cuts.
  • Former New York Governor George Pataki is using the No American Debt 501(c)(4) as his platform for speaking out against both President Obama’s health insurance reform and the national budget deficit.
  • Patriot Majority USA is a new Democratic 501(c)(4) running ads in Missouri attacking Republicans in response to Republican ads attacking Senator Claire McCaskill’s reelection bid. Its TV spot tells Missourians that the Republican plan is “No to Medicare. No to seniors.”
  • In Montana, a Colorado-based 501(c)(4) called the American Tradition Partnership has been attacking “environmental extremism” and defending poor ExxonMobil for its efforts to clean up a pipeline spill.

So please explain the political agenda of the 501(c)(4) Miss Kentucky Scholarship Organization, which describes itself as a “non-profit” (with the hyphen). Thank you very much.-Rick Cohen