IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Thursday that big-money political groups will not have to worry about the agency imposing new rules on their campaign spending activities before the 2016 presidential elections, reports The Associated Press.
At least partially due to not wanting the IRS to be seen as trying to influence the outcome of the election, Koskinen said the agency won't adopt new regulations for the political activities of tax-exempt organizations until 2017.
In 2013, the Treasury Department and IRS proposed new rules that would have clarified how the IRS defined political activity and how much money nonprofits are allowed to spend on that political activity, reported The New York Times.
The rules would have affected social welfare groups such as Crossroads GPS, co-founded by GOP strategist Karl Rove, as well as the pro-Obama Priorities USA, but after significant backlash from both conservatives and liberals, the IRS pulled the regulations and started re-working them, reported Reuters.
The consensus seems to be that for the 2016 election cycle, political expenditures will shatter records, with overall spending by candidates, parties and outside groups and individuals expected to approach $10 billion.
If Hillary Clinton and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush receive their parties' nominations, Bloomberg predicts they could each spend more than $2 billion, about twice as much as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spent in 2012.
Spending on TV ads alone is expected to increase by 16 percent to a record $4.4 billion, reports The Washington Post.
Candidates already spent at least $48 million during the first half of the year, nearly twice as much during the same period in 2012, according to Politico.
Reports detailing the unlimited contributions and spending of super PACs aren't due with the Federal Election Commission until the end of July, however, big-money groups have already raised some $86 million to support a few second- and third-tier candidates, such as Govs. Chris Christie and John Kasich, Sen. Ted Cruz, former CEO Carly Fiorina and former Govs. Rick Perry and Mike Huckabee.
Bush's Right to Rise super PAC said it has already raised $103 million, and a set of pro-Hillary Clinton groups said they raised $24 million in the first half of 2015. A nonprofit group aligned with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said it raised $15.8 million.
As HNGN previously reported, FEC Chairwoman Ann Ravel told The New York Times in May that her agency is practically powerless in safeguarding against fundraising and spending misconduct.
"The likelihood of the law being enforced is slim," she said. "People think the FEC is dysfunctional. It's worse than dysfunctional."