CONTACT: Jordan Libowitz
202-408-5565 | [email protected]
Washington— Go West Virginia, Inc. operated primarily to influence political campaigns in violation of its non-profit tax exempt status by contributing more than half of its total spending to a political organization, according to a complaint filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
Go West Virgina has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Grow WV, a super PAC involved in West Virginia state and federal campaigns. In 2016, Go West Virginia contributed $463,000 to the super PAC, and that expenditure accounted for about 70% of its total spending during the year. Similarly, over the course of the entire 2015-16 election cycle, political spending accounted for almost 60% of Go West Virginia’s total spending. As a section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization, Go West Virginia is not required to disclose its donors but may not make politics it primary focus.
“Clearly, Go West Virginia has been bankrolling political activities and funneling secret money toward elections in direct violation of the law and IRS regulations,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “West Virginians deserve to know who exactly is behind the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent to influence their elections.”
Grow WV has heavily relied on contributions from Go West Virginia. 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, and Go West Virginia’s $15,000 contribution to Grow WV in 2015 accounted for three quarters of the super PAC’s total 2015 funding. 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.