Washington, D.C.—In one of the more egregious recent cases of a dark money group flouting the law, the Government Integrity Fund (GIF) appears to not only have violated its tax-exempt status by acting as a political group while claiming to be a “social welfare” organization, but took extraordinary steps to avoid disclosure of its political activities, according to an IRS complaint filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
In 2014, GIF spent at least 55% of its budget on political contributions and spent more than a million dollars on political television ads, bringing political expenditures up to as much as 87% of its spending, meaning that politics appear to be its primary purpose. GIF’s 2014 tax returns were due in May 2015, but were not filed until July 2016—14 months late, and when those returns were filed, the group left out millions of dollars in political expenditures in an apparent attempt to conceal its violation of its tax-exempt status.
“We often see and file complaints against so-called social welfare groups that are acting as political committees,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “But it’s shocking how far the Government Integrity Fund went to hide what it was doing.”
GIF’s 2014 political spending focused on supporting then-Rep. Tom Cotton in the Arkansas senate general election, attacking then-Rep. Jack Kingston and supporting his opponent in the Georgia GOP senate primary, and attempting to defeat now-Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo in the general election.
“This dark money group was clearly very involved with the 2014 election, and it looks like the people behind it didn’t want the IRS to know,” Bookbinder said. “The IRS should investigate immediately.”
GIF has a history of tax issues. After telling the IRS in 2011 that it had no intention of spending money to influence politics, it promptly spent more than a million dollars on TV ads in Ohio attacking Sen. Sherrod Brown. In addition to filing its 2014 tax return extremely late, GIF also missed the deadline on both its 2012 and 2013 tax returns.