October 28, 2015

The video above is an example of the ads put out by a group called Carolina Rising. It is a non-profit organization qualified (supposedly) under section 501(c)(4) as a nonprofit organization. It's also shameless.

One of the rules about these so-called "social welfare" organizations -- 501(c)(4) nonprofits -- is that they are limited to spending 50 percent or less on overt political activities. If they violate that rule, they're supposed to be disqualified.

The real IRS scandal here is that they are not. In this case, it's so blatant and over the top that watchdog groups are now filing suit over it.

Carolina Rising had one donor and spent all $4.7 million on mostly one candidate: Thom Tillis. The ads that money purchased weren't even subtle.

Dallas Woodhouse, the Republican consultant who ran Carolina Rising, did away with any further pretense when he was interviewed live by a local news channel at the Tillis campaign’s election-night victory celebration. Sporting a Thom Tillis hat, Mr. Woodhouse, who was named executive director of the state’s Republican Party last month, was asked about his group’s spending “a whole lot of money to get this man elected.”

Mr. Woodhouse responded, “$4.7 million. We did it.”

Yet less than a year later, when it came time for Carolina Rising to report its activities to the I.R.S., it said it had not engaged in “direct or indirect political campaign activities on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for public office.”

Carolina Rising has no credible claim to being a social welfare organization. But the key thing to remember here is that Carolina Rising is not an outlier. It’s a trailblazer. In 2014, it was one of a new breed of politically active nonprofits that sprang up to assist a single candidate’s bid for a seat in Congress, with money from donors whose identities don’t have to be revealed.

The largest was the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, which supported Republican Senator Mitch McConnell’s re-election with more than $8.2 million in reported political spending. Another group, Oklahomans for a Conservative Future, spent nearly $1.3 million backing the state legislator T. W. Shannon’s failed bid to be the Republican nominee for that state’s open Senate seat.

CONTINUE READING THE MAIN STORCarolina Rising is the first of these nonprofits to file a tax return covering the midterms. Yes, that’s history now, but this is the most recent info available; such groups don’t have to submit their returns until 11 months after the end of their fiscal year, so it’s impossible to track them in anything like real time.

But there's nothing at all corrupt about this, right? The scandal is that the IRS dared to even consider scrutinizing these groups.

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