January 30, 2016

Noah Bookbinder Statement on 40th Anniversary of Buckley

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Executive Director Noah Bookbinder released the following statment on the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Buckley v. Valeo:

“Today is the fortieth anniversary of Buckley v. Valeo, the Supreme Court case that started us down the disastrous road toward unlimited money undermining our democracy.  CREW has been working for more than a dozen years to try to reverse the effect of that case and its progeny like Citizens United, and we will keep working to restore our democracy to the American people.  We were gratified that President Obama expressed strong support in this year’s State of the Union for curbing the influence of money in politics and returning control of our democracy to regular people, and we hope that he now acts to take an important first step to begin to undo the damage of these past four decades.  With a stroke of his pen, the President can issue an executive order requiring government contractors to disclose their political contributions, a step that CREW has strongly advocated.  Money in politics is a huge problem that will take many years and many approaches to solve, but we know Americans share our concern about this issue, and an executive order would be a good start.”

Complaint: Ernst-backing Koch Group Broke the Law

Trees of Liberty, a dark money non-profit financed and operated by the Koch political network, broke the law in helping Joni Ernst win her primary election in 2014, according to a complaint filed today with the IRS by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). The complaint was also referred to the US Department of Justice to investigate potential civil and criminal penalties. Trees of Liberty was set up by veteran Koch network political operatives a few months after Ernst appeared at a Koch donor retreat, and started running ads in Iowa within a week of its creation. Despite spending almost all of its budget to attack Ernst's primary opponent, Mark Jacobs, the group claimed on its tax filings with the IRS that it did not engage in political activity in 2014. Making false statements on a signed form to the IRS was a criminal violation. Additionally, Trees of Liberty violated its tax-exempt status by engaging primarily in political activity for the private benefit of now-Sen. Joni Ernst and the Koch network, the complaint alleges. “Trees of Liberty appears to have violated the law the in three ways: the group misled the IRS by claiming it was not involved in political activity, engaged in more political activity than allowed and operated for the private interests of Sen. Ernst and the Koch political network,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “Any one of these violations should be enough for the IRS to act on; taken together, they overwhelmingly support the need for investigation and vigorous enforcement.” Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, often referred to as “the Koch brothers’ secret bank,” provided $400,000 of the $440,000 the group raised. The group then spent $412,000—an incredible 94% of its expenditures—on “advertising campaigns on television, radio and online,” most of which benefited Ernst. Over $346,000 of Trees of Liberty’s budget was paid to i360, a data analyst and ad buying firm described as the “Koch data mine.” "The Koch network is effectively a political party, and Trees of Liberty is operating to advance the Koch party's interests, rather than anything resembling 'social welfare,'" said Brendan Fischer, Center for Media and Democracy's General Counsel. "The evidence shows that the Koch network secretly used Trees of Liberty to play a decisive role in a primary election, but the American people may never get a full accounting of how much the Kochs are spending on primaries this presidential election year, or what they get in return." Read More ›

Noah Bookbinder Statement on Van Hollen v. FEC

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Executive Director Noah Bookbinder released the following statement on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit's decision against disclosure in Van Hollen V. FEC: Read More ›

CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder Calls for Executive Action

CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder Calls for Executive Action Read More ›

NRA Again Leaves Out Millions in Political Spending from Tax Forms

After failing to disclose $33.5 million in political activity from 2008 to 2013, the NRA failed to disclose another $25 million in political spending to the IRS in 2014, according to a supplemented complaint filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) today. Despite calling the missing $33.5 million a “clerical error,” it appears that the NRA has still not corrected its previous inaccurate tax forms. Read More ›

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