Florida group under fire for possible use of dark money to 'split the Democratic vote'
A Florida group is at the center of scrutiny for its alleged use of dark money to fund political expenses and campaigns for phantom candidates despite being categorized as a "social welfare organization."
On Thursday, Dec. 17, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) submitted a written complaint to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) urging the department to launch an investigation into the group, Broken Promises.
CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder outlined a number of potential violations the group is responsible for as he explained why the group appears to be a political organization masquerading as a social welfare non-profit. It was also reported that the group has spent a whopping 99.6% of its funding on politically-linked endeavors.
Bookbinder also reiterated the legal requirements for tax-exempt organizations to receive tax breaks and benefits.
"Broken Promises blatantly misled the IRS about its primary activities and exploited our federal tax laws to get the benefits nonprofits are entitled to while secretly acting as a political organization," said Bookbinder. "The law is clear that tax-exempt organizations that receive tax benefits and do not disclose donors cannot spend the majority of their money on politics, but that is exactly what Broken Promises did."
The report also breaks down expenditures from the group's 2018 tax documents highlighting: "the dark money group spent a total of $161,010, though it failed to disclose that $160,470 of it went towards political activity. Most of the money was in-kind contributions of advertising or direct mail provided to the political committee Friends of Charles Goston, which supported an independent candidate whose state Senate race candidacy was directly backed by donations from Republican lobbyists."
He also noted that the contributions raised speculation about the tactic being a way 'to split the Democratic vote to help Republicans.'"
Instead of admitting to the IRS how the funds were actually used, the group denied any allegations of wrongdoing insisting any "direct or indirect political campaign activities on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for public office."
Bookhinder concluded by expressing concern about the long history of dark money and its improper impact on American elections.
"For far too long, dark money groups have secretly wielded their influence to overshadow the voices and interests of the American public, and it is past time for the IRS to ensure that nonprofit groups do not abuse their tax status to improperly influence politics," said Bookbinder. "The IRS should open an investigation into Broken Promises' behavior and should they be found in violation of the law, act swiftly to reconsider their tax status."
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