The Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Elections Commission should investigative the conservative group Hope, Growth and Opportunity (CHGO) for violations of tax and campaign finance laws, a liberal-leaning good government group said Monday.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed complaints with the FEC and the IRS alleging that CHGO “spent millions of dollars on political ads during the 2010 mid-term elections in violation of its 501(c)(4) tax status, and failed to file any required disclosure reports with the FEC.”
Commission on Hope and four other Republican-leaning groups spent at least $4.05 million attacking candidates in the run-up to the November voting, according to Campaign Media estimates and TV station records obtained by Bloomberg News. None of that spending can be found searching the public database of the Federal Election Commission, and FEC spokeswoman Mary Brandenberger said the commission has no record of it.
While the groups are required to disclose money spent on ads which mention or depict a candidate in the 60 days before a general election, none of the five groups did so.
CREW said in a news release that in paperwork filed with the IRS, CHGO “claimed it had no plans to spend any money on elections.” But weeks later their ads were hitting the air.
“For CHGO to tell the IRS it would not participate in the election, but weeks later, turn around and brag about its plans to spend $25 million on campaign ads suggests the group deliberately lied to the IRS,” said CREW’s Melanie Sloan.
Because CREW says the group deliberately failed to comply with the reporting requirements, CHGO may be subject to both criminal penalties and fines.
One of the ads CHGO ran is embedded below. CREW posted all of the ads here.