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IRS fails to release political groups' financial filings

Agency won't say why it's withholding normally accessible 527 group disclosures

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Mid-year campaign finance reports publicly posted by the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday revealed hundreds of political groups’ 2013 finances.

But there’s a glaring gap in the picture.

The Internal Revenue Service failed to release hundreds of mandatory filings by so-called 527 political organizations it — not the FEC — regulates.

Such groups had until Wednesday to submit disclosure reports covering the period from Jan. 1 to June 30. The information is typically made public immediately.

Contacted numerous times by the Center for Public Integrity during the past several weeks, including several times Wednesday, tax agency officials refused to say when the filing data would be available.

Officials likewise did not respond to requests for obtaining the information in other formats from its Washington, D.C., headquarters.

Earlier this month, the already scandal-plauged IRS removed all online data for 527 political organizations after California-based nonprofit group Public.Resource.Org found that the federal agency had inadvertently included tens of thousands of Social Security numbers.

The 527 groups, so named for the section of the federal tax code that gives them tax-exempt status, adhere to a similar filing schedule as groups that file to the FEC.

These groups include the two political organizations that are typically among the largest spenders nationally on gubernatorial elections: the Republican Governors Association, which reported taking in more than $29 million in the same period last year and more than $22 million in 2011; and the Democratic Governors Association, which reported more than $16 million in donations in the first six months of 2012 and more than $11 million in 2011.

While only two gubernatorial seats are up for grabs in 2013, 36 states will conduct gubernatorial elections in 2014.