Anyone who watched the CNN Democratic debate on Tuesday night saw Montana Governor Steve Bullock hold his own after not having qualified for the first one. But what many people don’t know about is the important win that Bullock pulled off right before he walked onto the debate stage. Following a yearlong court battle, Bullock succeeded in convincing a judge to rule against the Trump administration, a move that helps keep Russian interference and dark money in our nation’s politics at bay.
Last year, the Trump administration removed a tax rule that requires nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations to disclose donors who contribute more than $5,000 on their tax filings. Without the rule, “[l]iterally now, a Russian could give to the NRA, and not even the IRS would know,” Bullock explained to ABC News in June. Bullock, who was later joined by the New Jersey Attorney General, sued the Internal Revenue Service claiming the removal was unlawful.
U.S. District Judge Brian Morris agreed and ordered the tax rule must be reinstated. The judge admonished the Trump administration for rushing out the rule without public input in violation of federal law, and he warned that the IRS must follow the required notice-and-comment procedures if it decides to pursue such a rule in the future.
Hearing about the urgency for the United States to take new steps to prevent Russian interference in our elections has become a broken record. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other obstructionists in the Republican party have been going to great lengths to prevent sweeping reform. But as this case reminds us, it is also critical to monitor Trump’s attempts to make it even easier for Russia and others to mess with our democracy, and then stop such treasonous efforts in their tracks. Thanks to vigilance and action by Democratic leaders such as Bullock, Putin’s pet can be kept in his cage.