A political watchdog is calling for a criminal investigation of three prominent conservatives in connection with their involvement with a “dark money” nonprofit that last month avoided punishment from the Federal Election Commission.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is also suing the Federal Election Commission for failing to act against the now-defunct nonprofit, even though agency lawyers concluded that the group broke the law in 2010.
The so-called dark money group spent most of the $4.8 million it raised on campaign ads —contrary to what it reported to the Internal Revenue Service.
The request for an investigation, dated Monday, names the alleged architects of the Commission for Hope, Growth and Opportunity: William Canfield, now general counsel for pro-Carly Fiorina super PAC CARLY for America; Scott Reed, senior political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Wayne Berman, a senior adviser for Blackstone Group, a global investment firm, who also serves as national finance chairman for presidential candidate Marco Rubio.
Berman, Canfield and Reed did not respond to requests for comment.
The Center for Public Integrity reported on the nonprofit earlier this month when the FEC closed its five-year investigation into the group, prompting the public release of 227 pages of legal documents.
Plagued by gridlock, the commissioners decided not to take action against the group, voting 3-3 on whether to pursue sanctions. The deadlock occurred even though lawyers with the federal agency determined the group’s purpose was primarily political — a violation of IRS rules that that state such “social welfare” nonprofits may not make politics their primary activity.
CREW has also filed a lawsuit against the FEC demanding that it reopen and re-examine the case. CREW called the original dismissal “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to the law.”