A liberal group seeking to unseat Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, in subsequent 12 months’s election is the goal of an ethics criticism asking the IRS to research its tax-exempt status.
The D.C.-based nonprofit Foundation for Accountability for Civic Trust (FACT) despatched a letter to the IRS on Wednesday alleging that Maine Momentum had engaged in a “consistent pattern of activities” centered on Collins, indicating it was working for the “private benefit” of Maine’s Democratic entities moderately than selling social welfare, as required by its 501c(4) status. The tax-exempt status additionally bars organizations from overtly supporting or opposing any explicit candidate.
“These organizations are supposed to promote the social welfare of the general public not engage in overtly partisan politics, and there are many facts in this case which bring into question Maine Momentum’s execution of this requirement,” FACT Executive Director Kendra Arnold stated in a press release launched Friday.
Controversy over teams’ 501c(4) status is nothing new. After the Supreme Court’s resolution in Citizen’s United v. FEC, the status has been more and more utilized by nonprofits to affect political points whereas refusing to reveal company donors. As FACT factors out, the status precludes any group “that primarily benefits a private group of citizens.” IRS steering on the 501(c)4 status forbids “direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.” Organizations are in a position to “engage in some political activities, so long as that is not its primary activity.”
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Maine Momentum didn’t instantly reply to InternetNews’ request for remark, nor did Collins’ workplace.
Collins’ 2020 re-election bid gained consideration early on after she voted to substantiate Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court within the wake of sexual misconduct allegations in opposition to the federal choose. Collins’ vote provoked outrage from progressives. At one level in the course of the affirmation course of, a group was accused of bribing Collins after it provided her greater than $1 million in marketing campaign donations if she voted in opposition to Kavanaugh.
FACT’s criticism factors out ties between Maine Momentum and the state’s Democratic Party and cites the group’s personal mission assertion. According to FACT, Maine Momentum paid for dozens of Facebook advertisements focusing on Collins and reserved greater than $1 million in air time on Maine tv station.
The group’s web site incorporates a picture with a number of protest indicators directed particularly at Collins. This previous summer time, a Maine Public Radio report solid doubt on the group’s goal, claiming it had used “exploited advocacy rules” to focus on the Republican senator.
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Among its different work, Maine Momentum has developed a marketing campaign known as The 16 Counties Coalition which reportedly focuses on criticizing Collins for her vote in favor of President Trump’s tax reform invoice.
The 16 Counties Coalition is run by two former Democratic spokespeople, together with Willy Ritch, who beforehand labored for Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine. Chris Glynn, who beforehand labored for the Maine Democratic Party and state House Speaker Sara Gideon, additionally led the group.
The coalition’s web site particularly targets the “Republican-controlled Senate’s policies, which reward wealthy donors at our expense.” But Ritch has maintained that the group is restricted to schooling and “accountability.” “We’re not going to tell anybody who they should or shouldn’t vote for. We’ll leave that fight to other people,” Ritch instructed Maine Public Radio.
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According to FACT, the overwhelming majority of the marketing campaign’s social media exercise has centered on Collins. “[R]oughly 85% of the tweets by the 16 Counties Coalition have featured attacks on Susan Collins. Indeed, the only account that the 16 Counties Coalition’s Twitter handle follows is Susan Collins’ Twitter account.” The criticism additionally claims that the group’s Facebook web page has “never once mentioned another elected official, including when discussing the policy issues that Maine Momentum and 16 Counties claim are their chief priorities.”
“Instead, nearly every single post attacks Senator Collins and many focus on the source of her political campaign contributions,” the criticism reads.