The IRS had little interest in 501(c)(4) political activities until the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform. That law barred dedicated political-advocacy groups from soliciting and spending soft money–funds that aren’t subject to tight federal campaign-contribution limits and are used for issue advocacy and party-building.
Yet McCain-Feingold had the unintended effect of making 501(c)(4) political activities far more important than they had been, since the law’s ban on soft money doesn’t apply to such groups.
Before McCain-Feingold, what was the situation with 501c4’s? “virtually all politically active (c)(4)s, mostly labor and environmentalgroups, were ideologically liberal and their activities were notattacked in the mainstream media or by the political establishment.”
And there you go.
In response to The Citizens United obsession.