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CREW challenges tax status of GOP political organization

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Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has asked the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission to probe whether the Commission on Hope, Growth and Opportunity may have violated tax and campaign finance laws.

In a press release, CREW’s executive director Melanie Sloan charged that the millions of dollars the Commission spent on political ads last year violated its tax status as a 501(c)(4) social welfare group that is supposed to spend the majority of its funds on non-political activities. CREW also said that the Commission had failed to file reports with the FEC about its ad expenditures.

The Commission was set up by GOP lobbyist and operative Scott Reed, who told iWatch News last year that his group hoped to raise and spend as much as $25 million to help Republicans defeat Democrats in a few Senate contests and about 20 House races.

In its call for the IRS to look into possible violations of tax law, CREW stated that when the Commission applied for its tax status last July it claimed it had no plans to spend any funds on elections.

In her statement, Sloan also charged that the Commission had not filed any spending reports with the FEC, which are required if a group spends over $10,000 on political ads that mention a candidate’s name close to an election. CREW said that the Commission exceeded that amount in at least 12 races last year.

Reed declined to comment.