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Treasury moves to protect identities of ‘dark money’ political donors

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The U.S. Treasury said on Monday that it will no longer require certain tax-exempt organizations including politically active nonprofit groups, such as the National Rifle Association and Planned Parenthood, to identify their financial donors to U.S. tax authorities.

The policy change, heralded by conservatives as an advance for free speech, maintains donor disclosure requirements for traditional charity groups organized to receive tax-exempt donations under a section of the Internal Revenue code known as 501(c)(3), the Treasury said.

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But the move frees labor unions, issue advocacy organizations, veterans groups and other nonprofits that do not receive tax-exempt money from meeting confidential disclosure requirements set in place decades ago.
“Americans shouldn’t be required to send the IRS information that it doesn’t need to effectively enforce our tax laws, and the IRS simply does not need tax returns with donor names and addresses to do its job in this area,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

The change protects the privacy of wealthy donors of “dark money” donations to politically active groups. Conservatives have complained that the disclosures to the IRS, though not public, were susceptible to media leaks.

The issue of the IRS’s handling of nonprofit political groups exploded into headlines several years ago when the federal tax agency was found to have targeted tax-exempt political groups aligned with the conservative Tea Party movement for greater scrutiny.

“It is important to emphasize that this change will in no way limit transparency,” Mnuchin said. “The same information about tax-exempt organizations that was previously available to the public will continue to be available, while private taxpayer information will be better protected.”

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Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Leslie Adler


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Israel’s election outcome remains unclear — but the ‘ultimate loser’ will be Palestinians

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Israel is facing political turmoil as Tuesday’s election remains too close to call. With 92% of the vote counted, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and ex-military chief Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party appear to be nearly tied. Both leading candidates aiming to be prime minister had run on platforms vowing to take harsh measures targeting Palestinians. Netanyahu promised to annex nearly a third of the occupied West Bank, in violation of international law, if he won re-election. Earlier this year, Gantz had threatened to bomb Gaza back to the “Stone Ages.” On Tuesday night, Gantz said he had fulfilled his mission by preventing Netanyahu’s outright re-election, while Netanyahu did not claim victory or concede defeat in a speech to supporters. From Jerusalem, we speak with Palestinian attorney Diana Buttu about the significance of the snap election. “It’s not clear who will be the ultimate victor,” Buttu says. “I can tell you who will be the ultimate loser, and that’s the Palestinian people.”

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‘Just like Brett Kavanaugh’: GOP candidate who pleaded guilty to sexual battery claims he was the real victim

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A GOP congressional candidate in Utah is comparing himself to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — favorably — to explain away his guilty plea to two counts of sexual battery, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Cory Green, an Army Reserve and Navy veteran and private security officer running for Utah's 1st Congressional District, was charged with forcible sexual abuse in 2010 after he allegedly brought two teenage masseuses to a Motel 6, performed a sex act with an escort in front of them, and then paid one of the teenage girls for sex. He insists that the girl lied about her age and that his victim extorted him.

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Trump orders ‘substantial increase’ in Iran sanctions over Saudi oil field attack

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U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he had ordered Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to "substantially increase sanctions" imposed on Iran, amid escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran.

He did not give details on the move, which follows weekend attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia that some U.S. officials blamed on Iran. Iran has denied those allegations.

Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group claimed responsibility for the strikes on a Saudi oil field and the world's largest crude processing plant. The attacks disrupted global oil supplies.

Saudi Arabia has said oil production would be fully recovered by the end of the month.

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