Political or Not? You Be the Judge
Nonprofit groups that hold tax-exempt status in exchange for promoting social welfare are injecting millions of dollars into the presidential race.
Unlike political action committees, these groups — known as 501(c)(4)s for their section of the tax code — do not have to disclose their donors.
As ProPublica has reported, some of these groups have said they would not engage in political activities in applying for IRS recognition of their tax status, then have submitted filings later showing they have done the opposite. Some groups also have reported in their tax returns that they have not spent money, directly or indirectly, to influence elections. Yet in separate filings to election officials they have reported paying for television ads that seem overtly political.
We used our new Dark Money Database to find several examples of nonprofits that said “no” when asked about political spending on their 2010 tax returns. Then we reviewed ads they told the Federal Election Commission they paid for during the same time period.
Take a look and tell us whether you think the ads are political or not:
Women’s Voices Women Vote Fund (leans liberal)
Applied for IRS recognition of its tax-exempt status on Dec. 8, 2005. Said it would spend on elections on IRS Form 1024, but reported no election spending on its 2010 tax return. View details »
Let Freedom Ring (leans conservative)
Applied for IRS recognition of its tax-exempt status on May 20, 2004. Said it would not spend on elections on IRS Form 1024; reported no election spending on its 2010 tax return. View details »
Americans for Prosperity (leans conservative)
Applied for IRS recognition of its tax-exempt status. Reported no election spending on its 2010 tax return. View details »
ProPublica is following the money and exploring campaign issues you won't read about elsewhere.
Latest Stories in this Project
- Paul Ryan Reading Guide: The Best Reporting on the House Republican
- Could Scott Walker's Legal Victory Expand PAC Superpowers?
- New IRS Rules on Dark Money Likely Won't Be Ready Before 2016 Election
- Secret Donors Behind Some Super PACs Funneling Millions into Midterms
- A Kansas Group's Push to Oust Judges Reveals a Gap in Campaign Finance Rules