Nonprofit groups that hold tax-exempt status in exchange for promoting social welfare are injecting millions of dollars into the presidential race.
Unlike political action committees, these groups — known as 501(c)(4)s for their section of the tax code — do not have to disclose their donors.
As ProPublica has reported, some of these groups have said they would not engage in political activities in applying for IRS recognition of their tax status, then have submitted filings later showing they have done the opposite. Some groups also have reported in their tax returns that they have not spent money, directly or indirectly, to influence elections. Yet in separate filings to election officials they have reported paying for television ads that seem overtly political.
We used our new Dark Money Database to find several examples of nonprofits that said “no” when asked about political spending on their 2010 tax returns. Then we reviewed ads they told the Federal Election Commission they paid for during the same time period. MORE