June 12, 2018
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has filed complaints with the IRS and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against Freedom Vote (“FV”), an Ohio based dark money group, for direct and serious violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act (“FECA”).
Freedom Vote has acted as a political committee for the majority of its existence, spending most of its money on federal political activity. Despite its heavy political spending, FV never registered as a political committee with the FEC, failed to file reports disclosing its contributors and engaged in a conduit contribution scheme that kept secret the names of donors by laundering their contributions to Fighting for Ohio Fund through FV.
Additionally, the group has failed to disclose over $1 million in expenditures spent on political advertisements in opposition to former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, then a candidate for the US Senate, during the 2016 election cycle. The advertisements were unambiguously political. After criticizing him for his “job-killing policies” and for losing 350,000 jobs while he was in office, the ad said “now Ted Strickland wants to bring his job-killing policies to Washington” while showing an image of the U.S. Capitol building, clearly a message advocating Strickland’s defeat.
Freedom Vote has violated its tax-exempt status and federal campaign finance law by acting as a political group while claiming to be a “social welfare” organization and by failing to report over $1 million in expenditures on political advertisements. CREW therefore respectfully requests the FEC and IRS conduct an immediate investigation into these allegations and take appropriate action to enforce the FECA.