Nonprofit Newswire | No. 2 Democrat Asks for Investigation of Republican-Backed Nonprofit

October 13, 2010; Source: Associated Press | In this election cycle more and more money is pouring into nonprofit groups to influence elections across the country—mostly for Republican candidates. The Democrats intend to something to turn the tide.

The Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin, is asking the Internal Revenue Service to investigate spending by groups like Crossroads GPS, a third-party group backed by Republican operative Karl Rove, that have pumped millions into advertisements targeting Democrats.

The Illinois senator sent a letter to the IRS on Tuesday asking the agency to “quickly investigate” the tax status of Crossroads GPS and other groups that are running political advertising without disclosing their funding. The rules regulating campaign spending have been greatly eased by the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case decided early this year.

While 501(c)(3) public charities are absolutely prohibited from political campaign activities [PDF], 501(c)(4) “social welfare organizations” (as well as 501(c)(5) labor organizations and 501(c)(6) business leagues) can engage in campaign activities “so long as it does not constitute the organization’s primary activity,” according to the IRS.

Durbin’s request comes weeks after Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee have asked the I.R.S. to take a closer look at political spending nonprofit groups. It may be too late for the Democrats to prove any wrongdoing before the mid terms. Rather, this may be another salvo in the escalating campaign finance battle leading into 2012.—Aaron Lester

  • Charles A. Cunningham

    Dear Editor,

    I realize that media sources like The Nonprofit Quarterly has various editorial staff and that they might have opinions that land on one side or the other of the political sway. However, their personal bias should never be blatantly obvious as they report on issues in the news.

    Here the story is reporting on a Democrat playing the usual political and media game. The IRS and several media sources have researched this and did not find the Republicans did anything wrong. I just watched Good Morning America discuss how that this entire situation appears simply politically motivated that the Democrats asked the IRS to look into these things.

    Please have your staff be more careful when they are writing on political issues. The nonprofit sector is required to never land on one side or the other of the political parties, endorse political candidates, or endorse specific political agendas. We have an obligation to work for the greater good in our society.


    Charles Albert Cunningham