CREW filed a complaint with the IRS today seeking an immediate investigation into Go West Virginia, Inc., a dark money group that appears to have violated its status as a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization. In 2016, Go West Virginia contributed $463,000 to a political organization, which accounted for 70% its total spending during the year, significantly more than half, which makes political activity its main activity. This is consistent with Go West Virginia’s pattern of political spending in the 2015-16 election cycle, where political expenditures accounted for almost 60% of its total spending.
The group has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Grow WV, a super PAC involved in West Virginia state and federal campaigns. In 2016, more than half of Grow WV’s total fundraising came from Go West Virginia. Go West Virginia also contributed $355,000 to Grow WV in 2014, providing roughly a quarter of the super PAC’s total funding that year. Furthermore, Go West Virginia’s and Grow WV’s deep ties go beyond finances. The organizations share the same post office box as well as key personnel. Mark Scott, president of Go West Virginia, serves as the treasurer of Grow WV and Eric Lycan serves as counsel for both organizations.
Based on the publicly available information, Go West Virginia’s activities do not comport with its claimed status as a section 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization, which is not required to disclose its donors but may not make politics it primary focus. The IRS should investigate Go West Virginia and, should it find that Go West Virginia has violated its tax-exempt status, take appropriate enforcement actions.