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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

by Justin Elliott, ProPublica.

Shortly before Election Day last year, mailers went out to Texas voters featuring pictures of a Democratic congressional candidate and a rare species of spider, whose discovery had forced stoppage of an important highway construction project.

“The same left-wing extremists who support Pete Gallego want more burdensome regulations that put the interests of spiders above our need to create more jobs,” the flier declared, referring to discovery of the endangered Braken Bat Cave meshweaver. “The best way to stop left-wing extremists from killing jobs is to vote against their hand-picked candidate Pete Gallego.”

The group that put out the mailer, A Better America Now, reported to the Federal Election Commission it had spent about $65,000 for the mailer and TV advertising in the hard-fought race to represent Texas’ 23rd district.

But in a tax return recently filed with the IRS, the group claimed it did not spend any money at all on “direct or indirect political campaign activities.”

The tax return is signed under the penalty of perjury by the group’s president, Bob Portrie, and the accounting firm LBA Group. Neither responded to requests for comment.

We first reported on A Better America Now earlier this year, showing it had told the IRS in a 2011 application for nonprofit status that it did not plan to spend any money on elections. (That document was sent to ProPublica last year by the IRS, even though the application was still pending and thus not supposed to be released.)

“This type of inaccurate reporting by electioneering nonprofit groups has a long history,” says Public Citizen’s Craig Holman, when asked about the group’s most recent filing. “It is rooted in the fact that the IRS almost never holds these groups accountable for such false declarations.”

A Better America Now was a bit player in the elections. But it’s also an example of the kind of increasingly common outside groups that inject anonymous money into political campaigns.

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41 responses to “Dark Money Group Spent On House Race, Then Told IRS It Didn’t”

  1. Sand_Cat says:

    Another victim of the IRS “scandal”?

    • Isabel Herron says:

      what Brian answered I cannot believe that a person can make $4584 in 4 weeks on the internet. have you seen this web link w­w­w.K­E­P­2.c­o­m

      • Siegfried Heydrich says:


      • Michael Kollmorgen says:

        If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And, IF they require a fee to join, they’re living off your fee, not what sales the program generates. A reputable company NEVER charges a fee to join them.

        I’ve learned the hard way, NEVER give them your phone number. In a few days, you’ll be bombarded with lots of calls from “other” associated services.

  2. elw says:

    As a person who spent most of her career working with non-profits, what makes me sad about this is that those Right and Left leaning groups that are cheating will spoil the tax exemption for the many thousands of real non-profit organizations that really do spend their money and time helping real people in their community. They are a vital part of the US Social Safety Net, the professionals who work for them do so at a pay rate far lower than they could get not working for a non-profit and do so because they really care about their community. Most of them are small, locally organized and not nationally recognized. The real scandal about all this is the unethical manner in which the whole issue was investigated by Darrel Issa and the lack of concern about people using it to cheat on paying their taxes; and all because, he has his own personal agenda to get rid of that Black man in the White House. What should have been investigated is why the IRS has not been given the resources to more closely monitor organizations with the tax exempt status and those who are applying for it. Oops, that might just show that it was Republicans who cut their budget. Sounds like a conspiracy, doesn’t it?

    • Michael Kollmorgen says:

      Far as I’m concerned, all non-profits, churches and their associated organizations should have their non-profit statuses revoked.

      At least immediately revoke the ones that show even a hint of political involvement.

      Many of these groups have been getting away with highway robbery of the tax payer for years.

      • elw says:

        I would not like to a real non-profit be punished, but I do think that they should be non-political as well as non-profit. I agree with no political envolvement at all. And,yes many of them have been getting away with highway robbery for years, including the churches.

        • Dominick Vila says:

          You are right, organizations like the Red Cross, the Shriners, and a few others deserve to be helped and encouraged to persist in their endeavors. I agree with Michael, tax exempt privileges should not be extended to political and religious organizations. Most of them realize large profits, and do absolutely nothing to contribute to the welfare of the American people. If anything, they take advantage of our system of government, our fears and prejudices to make money, which should not be a determinant factor to qualify for tax exempt status. And that applies to political organizations on both sides of the political spectrum and all religious denominations.

          • charleo1 says:

            Mitt Romney contributed 10 million to his Church. 100% of his
            donation, was deducted form his gross. The Mormon Church
            goes into CA. and spends a ton of money, passing prop 8.
            On how many levels is that wrong?

          • idamag says:

            When I was reading the above posts, that incident came to mind. During the last election, an archdiocese said that good Catholics would not vote for Obama.

          • charleo1 says:

            I wonder how much of an effect that actually had with the
            Catholic faithful? I’m afraid getting a bit crossways with the
            Catholic Church on contraception, was unavoidable. Some
            very good Catholics are not eye to eye with their Church on
            this issue. And of course, the overwhelming number of Latino
            Catholics, evidently missed that altogether!

          • elw says:

            I was at a friend’s church watching her baby’s being baptize a few months ago and in middle of the service the minister stopped and gave a lecture about how the Government is interjecting itself in to peoples personal lives. I had to listen to that for twenty minutes, I almost asked what the tax status of his Church was, but I didn’t want to upset my friend.

          • Michael Kollmorgen says:

            IF you upset your friend with your honestly, your friend probably wasn’t a friend.

          • elw says:

            It is good to be honest with your friends and it is a whole different thing to interrupt a service that means alot to them with your honesty. I just could not do that.

          • Eleanore Whitaker says:

            Who was it who said, “Render therefore unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s….Seems some male bulls in the Catholic Church don’t like losing their authority status anymore than the bull males of the right or GOP.

          • charleo1 says:

            If you think about that one line, Eleanor. And, I have quite a bit. It is rather amazing, it wasn’t omitted from the Biblical texts long before the King James version. Or, that it was wasn’t scrubbed out of that version. Because, Christ clearly admonished his followers about keeping the realm of politics, and, God’s plan for the final disposition of Man. The central reason for Christ’s journey, or God’s return to those mortals
            he had cast out of the Garden, all those generations ago.
            To keep that separate. Yet, at each juncture, those in charge of shepherding the souls of mankind into eternal salvation.
            The original mission. Have sought to use the power of the message, brought to man through divine intervention. To make gains, and obtain the earthly powers of a Caesar. Which God has repeatedly reminded His egocentric creation, will, in the end be dust.
            Today’s Evangelicals, or their cousins, the Fundamentalist, and Literalists, who claim every word in the King James Bible, is the inspired word of God, to be taken in it’s most literal of meaning. Fail to contextualize the political drama swirling around Jesus, as He chose to returned to Jerusalem on those High Holy Days, marking the release of the Israelites out of bondage. Could the people be blamed, if they hoped
            God had sent them another Moses? Or, had come to see
            their religious leaders, as far too politically aligned with their
            Roman oppressors, to ever lead them to their Promised Land? In this respect, it was this commingling of State, and the Church, that led directly to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
            The story could not be more clear in it’s message.

          • idamag says:

            When Jesus was asked should they pay tithe or taxes – that was his answer. I also see in that statement that Jesus advocated a separation of church and state.

          • elw says:

            It is wrong on every level.

          • Michael Kollmorgen says:

            That sort of crap is exactly my point.

            And not only the Mormon Church does this.

          • charleo1 says:

            The idea that religion and politics don’t mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country.
            Jerry Falwell He also claimed AIDS was not only a punishment
            for the Homosexual. But a punishment for a Society that allows it. So, I guess that means God invented exercise bikes to rid the
            world of fat assed, fascists, impersonating ministers. And, we help them spread this crap, by their total exemption from any taxation. Yet, nothing will do, until the power of the State is
            brought to enforce their control of the land of the free!

          • Michael Kollmorgen says:

            Oh, Christians did run their own countries for awhile during the Dark Ages. And look what it got the people who believed in it, torture, disease, poverty, you name it, for what, nearly 500 years.

            No Charles, the Devil didn’t invent the idea of separating politics and religion. We did in this country, at least our founding fathers did to a degree, knowing full well, if they didn’t, it would turn into the Dark Ages all over again.

            But, actually, they mix very well. They both basically have the same goals, control and manipulation of a civilization, society, what have you. They just use different methods to obtain that goal.

            In reality though, there is no true separation between church and state. Never has been.

          • charleo1 says:

            I do hope you know I was quoting Jerry Falwell. And, not
            giving my opinion. As far the true separation of Church, and State, not being a reality. I would like to go on pretending
            they are separate anyway. If it’s all the same to you.

          • Michael Kollmorgen says:

            Haha, I know you were quoting Falwell:)

            As far as Aid being the punishment on society, I could put another spin on that using religion itself.

            In some circles within Christianity, they believe that when a child is born handicapped, it is a punishment on the parents for doing some misdeed or other. Of course no one stops to think, if that was the case, god didn’t give a crap about what the child has to go through all its life with that handicap.

            Goes to show just how redicilious a belief in any god can get.

      • Lynda Groom says:

        Exactly. Up to and until Congress and the IRS officially change the wording of the law. The guidelines are certainly not working at this time. It is plain that groups like those under Rove should never been included. It did not take genius to see that they were political. In fairness this should apply to all groups no matter party.

        • JSquercia says:

          AS Lawrence O Donnell pointed out the LAW defines that the organization must be EXCLUSIVELY engaged for the public good .It was the IRS that decided to replace the word Exclusively with the word Primarily . So it is the ONLY the IRS that needs to change .

          Interestingly enough latest info indicates that groups with the word Progressive in their Tittle were similarly scrutinized . Yet the Media IGNORES that fact .

          I would LOVE to see the who Committed PERJURY in signing that return go to JAIL

    • sigrid28 says:

      Right on, elw. The IRS may have been underfunded ON PURPOSE in order to eradicate if not inhibit audits on taxpayers in the top 10% and major corporations, which hire whole teams of accountants in order to pay little or no taxes, and stretch credibility to the limit in fashioning their tax returns.

  3. Lynda Groom says:

    Integrity and honesty the lost arts.

  4. Dominick Vila says:

    Judith is absolutely right, the real scandal is not the fact that the IRS was investigating tax exempt applications that included fraudulent information, but the lies and subterfuges used by certain groups to profit from our political process, and influence the outcome of elections using deceitful tactics and fraud. If anything, the IRS investigations should be expanded, and the people who have conducted investigations should be recognized for their efforts and commitment. The outrage from the Tea Party is a pre-emptive tactic to deflect attention from what they did and preclude further investigations and potential prosecution.

    • idamag says:

      The outrage is that it fell under issa’s magnifying glass. On one hand, we yammer about everyone paying their fair share of taxes and on the other if the IRS tries to make sure that happens, we are outraged. “What fools these mortals be.”

      • Eleanore Whitaker says:

        Issa was a scandalmonger of the worst kind. His reputation now is toast and he knows it. He raked up a lot of mud that amounted to no proof of his accusations. Another McCarthy narrow minded tactic the GOP seems wont to indulge in these days.

  5. charleo1 says:

    I propose a Bureau of, “Come on!” “Seriously, is that really true?”
    Located in Nigeria. It would beat what we’ve got.

  6. Eleanore Whitaker says:

    Why would anyone in their right mind be surprised that those who seek to gain control most are the same ones who take umbrage when they are questioned for any reason? Isn’t that the mind of most criminals? Their backs go up the minute you dare start asking questions that lead to their criminal acts. So they shout you down, start the name calling and when that doesn’t work, they use their sneaky underhanded tactics like refocusing blame on someone else…Really mature. Really skanky and really really out of hand.

    • idamag says:

      As the street thug says when he is criticized,” They aint respecting me.” Well, when the signs pointed out that the tp needed scrutiny, the tp feels they are not respected.

      • Eleanore Whitaker says:

        My last encounter with the Tea Party was one I hope isn’t a pedigree for this misguided bunch of thugs. When NJ Congressman Rush Holt held a meeting in a small local NJ town, a bunch of Tea Party bull males got in front of his face, yanked the microphone out of his hand and started their big mouth yelling. If that isn’t an unregulated militia mentality, I have no idea what you call it. It served the Tea Party’s purpose…to refuse to allow the rest of the group to hear what the Congressman had to say.

        • idamag says:

          I have to tell you about my personal encounter with the tp. I am a member of an occupy group. We didn’t camp out. It wasn’t necessary where I live. We wore buttons and carried signs that read something like, “Restore our government to the people, of the people and by the people” I had to go the hospital for a procedure. I had to be there at 6 a.m. I decided not to bother anyone to take me there and to take a cab both ways. My button was on my coat. The driver didn’t say anything when I got into the cab. Suddenly he unleashed a barrage of name calling: socialist, communist, as threat to his children was among them. I tried to explain that the Occupy group was non-partisan and non-violent. He said he was a member of the tea party. He kept up his harangue until I reached the hospital. The nurse said they would call a cab for me when I was ready to go home. I told her not to call that cab company.

          • Michael Kollmorgen says:

            You should have gotten his badge number and/or car number and called the Cab Company yourself with your complaint. He probably would have been fired.

            With competition the way it is between cab companies, they can’t afford to have a bad driver on their hands, let alone bad news about them.

          • idamag says:

            He knew where I lived.

    • Jim Myers says:

      Seems to me that you just did a near perfect description of the Tea Party.

  7. Lovefacts says:

    It’s time tax exempt status was removed from any organization or group, which engages in anything political. This includes any church that promotes one party or candidate or platform over another. Although, I have no problem with churches discussing societal issues visa vie how that faith views it without mentioning a candidate or party, or taking part in voter registration–as long as cards of all parties are filed–or providing transportation to the polls.

    However, the moment a church tells the candidate not to worry, they’ll see he’s elected, such as Falwell’s church did, it should lose its tax free status. It should also lose it for promoting specific candidates; this crosses the line from non-political to becoming a political arm of a specific party.

    FWIW, W’s administration investigated socially activity churches. You know, the ones that promote saving our planet, feeding the poor, housing the poor, a decent education for everyone–not just the rich–and decent medical care that didn’t bankrupt the individual. In many cases, the IRS under W’s administration attempted to strip these churches of their tax free status. Some closed down. Others spent years in the courts but won. Sad but true, but where the Republicans are concerned only the groups which support them or their ideology are worthy of tax free status.

  8. Allan Richardson says:

    The “scandal” is that the IRS didn’t actually DENY any tax exempt statuses. So when are they going to prosecute these people?

  9. howa4x says:

    This is why the republicans blew the lid off the IRS. It wasn’t because some little tea party group couldn’t get a 501.2;3c but because the IRS was zeroing in on Karl Rove and all the dark money he raised. Everything else was cover

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