Citizens United

GOP Groups Spend Over Legal Limits

Does this mean we’ll get a peek at those conservative donors after all? In the final weeks of the midterm election campaign, political ads from conservative nonprofit groups are hitting the airwaves, but they could put some groups’ nonprofit status in jeopardy. A group can claim nonprofit status under the tax code’s Section 501(c) only if less than half of its work is political. Whether spending on the classic issue ads—pushing for clean energy, lower taxes, whatever—counts as political activity is debatable. But the new ads that explicitly endorse a candidate are indisputable. The New York Times found that two groups that favor Republicans, the American Future Fund and the 60 Plus Association, have done more than half their spending this year on TV ads with explicit advocacy. Other groups, like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and Americans for Job Security, have come close. But if the IRS were to classify their traditional issue ads as political, they would tip over the legal line, too.