We've got some more Super Bowl intrigue for you today: The Super Bowl 50 Host Committee has received millions of dollars in contributions from both individuals and organizations as it prepares for the big day on February 7 in Santa Clara and the fan-village fun in SF the week prior. However, due to its nature as a non-profit, the committee has no legal requirement to disclose who those donors are. With $50 million already donated, this lack of a transparency requirement has some worried about the potential for abuse though the committee says they're being completely transparent, regardless.
The committee is structured as a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization with the Internal Revenue Service, notes the Chronicle, which means that a majority of the money coming in and out is shielded from any public scrutiny.
One expert on 501(c)(6) organizations, professor of law at Louisiana State University Philip Hackney, explained to the paper why the citizens of San Francisco should be paying attention.
“They’re filling public roles in very private ways,” noted Hackney, who furthered that "it has the potential for graft.”
Hackney was quick to clarify that there is no evidence of malfeasance, but without mandated donor disclosure it is hard to be 100 percent sure what is happening behind the scenes.
"People in San Francisco want to know what is happening," he observed, "just like they would want to know what the city council is doing."
What's more, the 501(c)(6) status differs from the more tradition 501(c)(3) non-profit in that it still allows the group to lobby politicians and advocate for political goals.
As for the committee's part, a spokesman for the organization told the Chronicle that the group is listing donors on its website — legal requirement or no.
“We value transparency," said Nate Ballard. "Everyone who has given even a dime to the host committee is listed publicly. In the interest of transparency, we’ve revealed the name of every corporate sponsor, even though our tax status does not require us to.”
But, of course, without the legal requirement to disclose all donors, we have to take the committee at its word that the list is complete.
So, who are the donors? Chevron, Google, and a couple of prominent law firms to name a few. And who are the people that advise on how the money is spent? The list includes former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and Google VP David Drummond.
With an estimated 20 percent of funds raised not going toward event production costs, there is an awful lot of cash getting spread around. Just sayin'.