Washington—The FEC should investigate Turning Point Action for violating the Federal Election Campaign Act by failing to disclose any of its donors despite making more than $1.4 million in independent expenditures in 2020, according to a complaint filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Because it solicited money it said it would spend supporting President Donald Trump’s reelection and Joe Biden’s defeat, Turning Point Action was required to disclose contributors who gave it money to influence federal elections or run independent expenditures under a landmark court decision won by CREW.
Turning Point Action is a dark money group associated with Turning Point USA, which is under the direction of its founder and CEO Charlie Kirk. According to its FEC reports, between August 20, 2020 and December 31, 2020, the group spent $1,428,161 on independent expenditures in federal elections. Turning Point Action did not disclose any contributors in those reports, and despite the FEC notifying the group in early February that it was missing donor information in its reports, it did not correct its filings by last week’s deadline.
“Turning Point Action is yet another example of dark money groups being used to hide the true sources of big political spending, leaving the public in the dark about who is influencing their elections even when the law requires disclosure,” said CREW President Noah Bookbinder. “In order to protect the integrity of our elections from such predatory groups, the FEC should investigate Turning Point Action.”
Most of Turning Point Action expenses went toward online and social media ads, as well as materials, such as door hangers, advertising, yard signs, billboards, and banners, supporting candidates like then-President Trump, Tiffany Shedd in Arizona’s first congressional district, and former Georgia Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in their races, or opposing President Biden and the two current Senators from Georgia, Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock. The group’s online solicitations for donations made it clear that contributions to the group would be used for furthering Turning Point Action’s independent expenditures.
The law requires any group making more than $250 in independent expenditures in a calendar year to disclose the identity of every person contributing more than $200 to the reporting entity to influence federal elections, as well as the identity of every person who contributed more than $200 for the purpose of furthering independent expenditures. The disclosure requirements stem from a landmark legal case, CREW v. FEC and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, which threw out an illegal three decades old regulation that was used to avoid disclosure. CREW’s victory in the case changed the legal landscape for political spending and restored Congress’s intended full disclosure of those making contributions to groups that fund independent expenditures.
“This is a rare instance where there is even now a strong campaign finance law, but a strong law only matters if it is enforced. The American people need to know whose money is influencing politics so they can make better decisions to make government work for them,” said Bookbinder. “With the kind of blatant violation we seem to have here, the FEC must promptly investigate.”
Photo by Gage Skidmore.