Outside of Republican candidates themselves, very few political players had a worse campaign season than Karl Rove. His well-funded attack operation invested heavily and lost just about every race it contested, and Rove added insult to injury with an on-air tantrum that’s already become the stuff of legend.
But as awful as Rove’s 2012 has been, there are some post-election questions that need answers, too. ProPublica uncovered fascinating evidence of dubious claims Rove’s Crossroads GPS made to the Internal Revenue Service – and misleading the IRS is generally a pretty serious no-no.
In a confidential 2010 filing, Crossroads GPS – the dark money group that spent more than $70 million from anonymous donors on the 2012 election – told the Internal Revenue Service that its efforts would focus on public education, research and shaping legislation and policy.
The group’s application for recognition as a social welfare nonprofit acknowledged that it would spend money to influence elections, but said “any such activity will be limited in amount, and will not constitute the organization’s primary purpose.”
Crossroads filed for tax-exempt status, and ProPublica obtained the group’s original application, which claimed half of its efforts would focus on education, 30% on lobbying, 20% on research, including sponsoring “in-depth policy research on significant issues.”
Rove’s group conceded Crossroads might get involved in elections, but assured the IRS that “[a]ny such activity will be limited in amount, and will not constitute the organization’s primary purpose.”
Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, reviewed Crossroads’ application and concluded, “That statement of proposed activities does not seem to align with what they actually did, which was to raise and spend hundreds of millions to influence candidate elections.”
Which seems like a very polite way of saying Rove & Co. may have lied to the IRS.
Remember, because Crossroads GPS is classified as a “social welfare” group – a 501(c)4 organization – it’s able to raise money while keeping its donors secret. ProPublica added that the IRS could deem Rove’s group ineligible for tax-exempt status, and Crossroads “could be forced to reveal the identities of its donors.”
And wouldn’t that be interesting.