Allen West fuels his nonprofit with campaign cash

Former tea party congressmen directs $400,000 to group aimed at training conservatives

By

 Updated:

Vanquished Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., is using his boatload of surplus campaign cash to fuel another political endeavor — building his newly created nonprofit organization.

West's still-active campaign committee made a "charitable donation" of $400,000 to the Allen West Foundation on March 27, according to a filing submitted to the Federal Election Commission today.

This is on top of $250,000 his campaign donated to the Allen West Foundation in January.

West formally established the Allen West Foundation in March as a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization, saying he intends to use it to train and educate conservative candidates who are minorities or have military backgrounds. He also plans to have the nonprofit group directly involve itself in political races.

During the 2012 election cycle, 501(c)(4) groups, which by law cannot have a primary purpose of engaging in politics, spent hundreds of millions of dollars directly advocating for and against political candidates — advocacy made possible by the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling in 2010.

Such nonprofits may raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, but unlike another kind of powerful electioneering entity — the super PAC —  501(c)(4) groups aren't generally required to reveal their donors.

Donations from a campaign committee to a nonprofit group are legal, and there are no restrictions on the amount. Candidates may also donate campaign funds to their own charities, as former presidential candidate and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, did earlier this month.

West also spent about $178,400 to fund legal efforts surrounding a vote recount from the November election, in which Democratic challenger and current Rep. Patrick Murphy ultimately won by a narrow margin.

The race, in which West and Murphy combined to spend $24.1 million, was the nation's most expensive House race during 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. West accounted for the vast majority of that spending.

Super PACs and nonprofits, meanwhile, spent an additional $6.5 million in the race.

West's campaign committee ended March with nearly $143,000 in the bank and no debt.

The former congressman also operates a political action committee, the Allen West Guardian Fund, which reported less than $9,000 cash on hand through December.