IRS Takes a Closer Look at Rove’s Dark-Money Group

Image of Karl Rove by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/33876038@N00/2824584419/">chicagopublicmedia</a>/Flickr

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As they dominate the airwaves with political ads, dark-money nonprofits are coming under increased scrutiny. At issue is the charge that they’re running afoul of their tax-exempt status by focusing on partisan political activity. Earlier this week, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent subpoenas to a nonprofit affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce to see if millions of dollars had been improperly funneled to the Chamber (a 501(c)(6) nonprofit) for political purposes.

Now, the Wall Street Journal reports, the Internal Revenue Service has begun a process of determining whether Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS should have to give up its nonprofit 501(c)(4) status and disclose its donors. Democrats and campaign-finance watchdogs have been urging regulators to crack down on groups like Crossroads GPS; last week the Obama campaign’s top lawyer sent a snarky letter to Rove saying he was filing a complaint with the FEC “laying out the case—obvious to all—that Crossroads is a political committee subject to federal reporting requirements.”

If the IRS revokes Crossroads GPS’ or other 501s’ nonprofit status, the Journal explains, “the organizations could be held liable for large tax bills for the millions of dollars they have received tax-free.” However, reaching such a determination will likely take months. Which means that dark-money groups can keep spending freely on ads and promising anonymity to their donors through the November election.

For more, check out our interactive dark-money universe map, which tracks Crossroads GPS and 17 other 501 groups.

More MotherJones reporting on Dark Money

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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