Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 20, 2014

Posts in "Tax-Exempt Organizations"

April 15, 2014

Republican Super PAC Spends Against Republicans

The war chest of a Republican-oriented Super PAC has been filled by three donors giving hundreds of thousands of dollars in March, but the funds are being spent against a Democrat and several Republicans.

Ending Spending Action Fund, the super PAC of a 501c4 non-profit organization, reported it had receipts of $1,350,000 and disbursements of $375,438 during the first quarter of the year, leaving $977,621 cash on hand as of March 31st.

The super PAC founder, J. Joe Ricketts, former CEO and chairman of T.D. Ameritrade, gave $550,000 on March 17th. Paul Singer, CEO of Elliott Management Corporation, gave $350,000 on March 18th. The Baupost Group LLC of Boston, Massachusetts, gave $450,000 on March 28th.

The super PAC was set up to educate and engage taxpayers about wasteful and excessive government spending.

Full story

April 6, 2014

Republican Attorneys General Association Starts Super PAC

A day after the Supreme Court made public an opinion on federal campaign financing, an association of state Republican Attorneys General registered a new Super PAC to make independent expenditures in federal elections.

This Spring political money appears to be crossing between branches of government, and between the state and federal levels.

The Republican Attorneys General Association became more active politically on Thursday when it registered a new Super PAC, RAGA Action Fund, with the Federal Election Commission. The committee registration states it intends to make independent expenditures and will not make contributions to federal candidates. The committee may receive contributions in unlimited amounts.

Full story

April 1, 2014

$100K in Campaign Funds Given To Charity

BillYoung 03 041613 223x335 $100K in Campaign Funds Given To Charity

The Late Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla.

Over $100,000 in leftover campaign funds of a deceased member of Congress have been donated to ten charities.

The campaign committee of the late Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., has donated $101,349 in the first quarter of the year to ten charities in the St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Tampa, Florida area. The committee has terminated activity.

The Congressman Bill Young Campaign Committee reported it gave $25,000 to All Children Hospital Foundation; $25,000 to the Bayfront Health Foundation; $22,849 to the Armed Forces Foundation; $10,000 to the Suncoast Hospice Foundation; $5,000 to the Gold Shield Foundation; $5,000 to the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks; $3,000 to St. Vincent de Paul; $2,500 to Cops for the Cause; $2,000 to Calvary Episcopal Church; and $1,000 to Remember, Honor, Support Inc.

Full story

March 28, 2014

2016 Republican Presidential Hopefuls Press the Flesh in Las Vegas

Potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates are trooping to Las Vegas this weekend to attend the Spring Leadership Conference of the Republican Jewish Coalition. But it’s not the golf or poker tournaments they are focused on.

Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, John Kasich are among those going to meet and shake hands with Republican super donor and board member Sheldon Adelson and others who are active in the Republican lobbying group and also major donors to Republican organizations, such as Super PACs, party committees and non-profit organizations. View board members.

The coalition has a federal political action committee, the Republican Jewish Coalition PAC,  that generally gives out about $150,000 per election cycle. View financial profile. So far this cycle, they have given $10,000 to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; $5,000 to Rep. William Cassidy, R-La.; $5,000 to en. John Cornyn, R-Texas; $2,500 to U.S. Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez, R-Mass; and $1,000 to Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis.

Their donors this cycle include Full story

March 25, 2014

Republican State Leadership Committee Invests in Website

A caucus of Republican state officials and its nine state affiliates are investing more funds in website development.

The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) reported its February expenditures included paying $36,000 to Acquire Digital (Nashville, Tennessee) for website development; $14,000 to Harris Media (Austin, Texas) for website development; $10,775 to 3DNA Corporation (Los Angeles, CA) for website work; and $4,000 to Domain Diction Limited (London, England) for consulting.

The Section 527 organization reported to the I.R.S. February receipts of $674,000 and expenditures of $739,686.

Large donors in February included $165,000 from WellPoint Inc.; $50,000 from the Nuclear Energy Institute; $50,000 from AT&T; $50,000 from United States Steel Corporation; $35,000 from the Int’l. Council of Shopping Centers; and $35,000 from Majestic Realty Co. (CA); among others.

Full story

No Working Whirlpool Bathtub at Senate Conservatives Fund

Campaigning is often a dirty business and Republican leaders are increasing efforts to get tea party activists to come clean about excessive spending, which sometimes filled their own pockets.

Eliza Newlin Carney’s new CQ Roll Call article, “Steeped in Overhead: A Look at the Expenses of Tea Party Groups,” highlights their growing friction with Republican leaders and the lack of accountability or oversight in spending tens of millions of GOP dollars.

A recent radio ad for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. – who is under attack from the right in his own primary – blasts the Senate Conservatives Fund for spending its money “on a luxury townhouse with a wine cellar and hot tub in Washington, D.C.”

March 13, 2014

Congress Gets Away With Free Foreign Trips (Updated)

Some members of Congress didn’t stick around Washington during the cold month of February, but they found better places to be on free trips to foreign lands.

The big free trips during February included eleven members on the trip to Israel sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation. Another nineteen went to Cartagena, Colombia, with expenses paid by the Aspen Institute, the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Other members went to Japan, Australia, and Belgium. The trip to Australia for one member and his spouse was worth almost $50,000.

Family members also traveled free. Seventeen members of Congress took spouses along. Two members took their children. Another took their mother-in-law, all without cost to them.

The American Israel Education Foundation covered the expenses for the educational seminar trip to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Tiberias, Israel for Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., $23,982 (including mother-in-law); Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., $12,248; Rep. John Duncan, R-Tenn., $12,529; Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, $10,823; Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, $18,987 (including son); Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif. $21,781 (including son); Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J., $11,288; Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., $20,886 (includes spouse); Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., $22,503 (including spouse); Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., $23,177 (includes spouse); Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., $22,800 (including spouse).

Full story

March 5, 2014

Honda Posts Policy on Political Activities

A major international automobile maker has joined a growing list of companies that have established disclosure measures to make transparent the company’s political activities policy and any political activities in which it participates.

The Honda North America policy governs political activities and disclosure in the United States. Honda does not maintain a political action committee (PAC), but it encourages dealers to contribute to a trade association PAC, the Automotive Free International Trade PAC.

The Honda policy statement, posted on the Internet, states no corporate resources will be used to support the election or defeat of a candidate, and no portion of trade association dues, or payments to tax-exempt organizations, may be used for or against a candidate. Honda may be involved with ballot initiatives and political party conventions.

Honda’s policy calls for publishing online a report of its political activities for the prior six months.

The Center for Political Accountability (CPA), which scores American companies on comprehensive public disclosure of political activities, indicated Honda would receive a hypothetical score of 97%, and place it in the top tier of companies.

Ford Motor Company has also posted its policy, but the CPA scored them at 40% in their 2013 CPA-Zicklin Index. The CPA states Ford does not disclose any political expenditures of corporate assets. General Motors has posted its policy.

March 4, 2014

Former FEC General Counsel Retruns to Battle

A leading campaign finance lawyer has joined a national advocacy organization to focus on campaign finance litigation and Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulatory oversight.

Larry Noble, the former FEC General Counsel from 1987 to 2000, served at the agency for more than twenty years. He served as General Counsel working closely with the six Commissioners when there was a more collegial environment than in current years. In recent years he was in private practice with Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom LLP advising clients on matters relating to regulation of political activity. Noble had previously headed up the Center for Responsive Politics and Americans for Campaign Reform.

At the Campaign Legal Center, Noble returns to working with Full story

March 3, 2014

Obama’s Advocacy Group Reroutes $100K Check from Felon Seeking Pardon

A fundraiser for President Obama’s advocacy group, Organizing for Action, took steps to hide a $100,000 contribution from a New Jersey doctor who was seeking a pardon for Medicare fraud.

NBCNews reported that Organizing for Action fired Samantha Maltzman, a fundraising consultant, for her actions in trying to keep the contribution secret. Maltzman asked the donor, Dr. Joseph Piacentile, who was convicted of Medicare fraud in 1991, to write a new check made payable to a sister organization, America Votes. When NBCNews inquired about the transaction, officials at Organizing for Action located the check, before it left their offices, and returned it.

February 28, 2014

Non-Profit Activity Includes Providing Free Travel to Congress

Members of Congress accepted more than $3.7 million of free trips during 2013, the highest since 2003. The trips were mostly paid for by non-profit organizations, many of which have a distinct public-policy agenda.

USAToday analysis of Political MoneyLine data on gifts of free travel to members of Congress and their spouses shows the top travel destination was Israel and the biggest sponsor was a foundation affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee or AIPAC.

View the USAToday article by Fredreka Schouten. View the Political MoneyLine Private Travel database.

January 16, 2014

Groups To Sue FEC Over Crossroads GPS Case

After Commissioners failed to agree to start an investigation of a non-profit organization that spent almost $100 million during the 2010 election, several groups have announced they will sue the agency.

The Campaign Legal Center and several other groups announced they will sue the Federal Election Commission for arbitrary and capricious action in dismissing a complaint against Crossroads GPS, a 501c4 non-profit.  In December, the FEC deadlocked 3-3 along party lines, on whether to start an investigation into Crossroads GPS for not registering as a political committee, and thus being required to disclose its donors.

View the original complaint about Crossroads GPS. The FEC General Counsel had recommended finding reason to believe there was a violation and asked the case to be started. The Commissioners wrote statements on their positions.

$185M in Corporate Money to Political Non-Profits Disclosed

Over one hundred top U.S. corporations have disclosed funneling $185 million to more than one thousand political non-profit organizations in 2012.

The Center for Public Integrity released a new report Thursday showing that one hundred companies voluntarily disclosed about $155 million going to trade associations, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute. Of those companies disclosing contributions, 62 gave a total of $11 million to the Chamber. Dow Chemical Company gave $2.9 million. The $11 million was a small part of the $188 million budget of the Chamber in 2012.

Full story

January 15, 2014

Political Operatives Take Home Big Checks

The top staff of political organizations have found their positions very lucrative for themselves, even if their organizations did not accomplish their election goals.

Recent tax filings and Federal Election Commission reports show new information on the large salaries of key staff super PACs and politically active non-profit organizations. Steven Law of American Crossroads, Stephanie Schriock of Emily’s List, Thomas Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Rebecca Burkett of Winning the Future, are a few operatives highlighted in a new article appearing in Roll Call.

January 10, 2014

Loopholes Give Free Overseas Travel to Lobbyists and Members of Congress

Members of Congress and lobbyists continue to take advantage of loopholes in the gift and travel rules put in place after the Jack Abramoff scandal.

The “reality is that lobbyists who can’t legally buy a lawmaker a sandwich can still escort members on trips all around the world,” states a new National Journal investigative report.

The report highlights free travel for members paid for by the governments of foreign countries under the provisions of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act (MECEA), for cultural exchange trips. The report also highlights free travel paid by non-profits that accept corporate contributions.

Full story

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