ProPublica document dump on Americans for Responsible Leadership

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The Arizona dark money group that the state of California has accused of illegal campaign money laundering, Americans for Responsible Leadership, is back in the news again. Talking Points Memo reports Dark Money Group Spent Millions On Election After Telling IRS It Would Stay Out Of Politics:

An Arizona political non-profit that spent millions in 2012
supporting Republicans and opposing President Obama told the IRS in
September that it would not spend money to influence elections,
according to documents obtained by ProPublica.

The
organization, Americans for Responsible Leadership, run by a group of
mostly little-known Arizona Republicans [GOP consultant Sean Noble and his Center to Protect Patient Rights, a 501(c)(4) organization in the "Kochtopus," and Noble’s political consulting company, DC-London, were heavily involved], also spent millions of dollars
on ballot initiative efforts in Arizona and California. Its $11 million
donation to a California group prompted a lawsuit from California’s
campaign finance watchdog, which eventually forced it to disclose that it served only as a pass-through for the donation.

ProPublica obtained Americans for Responsible Leadership’s
application for federal tax-exempt status, as well as applications
submitted by a number of other conservative “dark money” groups active
in the 2012 elections, after submitting a public records request to the
Internal Revenue Service.

All of the groups (which include: Freedom Path, Rightchange.com II,
America Is Not Stupid, and A Better America Now) checked “no” in
response to the following question: “Has the organization spent or does
it plan to spend any money attempting to influence the selection,
nomination, election, or appointment of any person to any Federal,
state, or local public office or to an office in a political
organization?”

Elsewhere in its IRS filing, which was made in September, Americans
for Responsible Leadership said that 50 percent of its resources would
go toward to educating the public and “promoting a more ethical and
transparent government” through advertisements, “telephone programs,”
town hall meetings, speakers, rallies, a website, and a newsletter. The
remaining 50 percent of the group’s resources, according to the filing,
would go toward influencing policy, in “Washington and elsewhere,”
through direct mail and email campaigns, advertising, and phone banking.

In reports filed with another agency, the Federal Election Commission, a few weeks later, Americans for Responsible Leadership disclosed (PDF)
spending millions of dollars on phone calls supporting or opposing
House and Senate candidates, supporting Mitt Romney, and opposing Obama
in the days leading up to the election.

ProPublica obtained Americans for Responsible Leadership and the
other groups’ applications despite the fact that the IRS is only
required to supply these records after groups are recognized as
tax-exempt. None of the above-mentioned groups have been recognized as
tax-exempt.

* * *

ProPublica has redacted financial information from the IRS documents, but believes publishing the applications is lawful.

“As we said when we published our story on the Crossroads
application, ProPublica believes that the information we are publishing
is not barred by the statute cited by the IRS, and it is clear to us
that there is a strong First Amendment interest in its publication,”
Richard Tofel, ProPublica’s president, said in a statement.

And still no investigation by the Arizona Attorney General or Secretary of State.

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