For Immediate Release
Jordan Libowitz, firstname.lastname@example.org.
CREW Asks IRS To Investigate The American Future Fund
WASHINGTON - Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked for the Internal Revenue Service
(IRS) to investigate whether the American Future Fund (AFF) has
violated tax law. AFF, organized under section 501(c)(4) of the tax
code, burst onto the political scene in the 2010 election, spending
millions of dollars asking voters to vote against Democratic candidates
for federal office. 501(c)(4) organizations like AFF may not have as
their "primary purpose" the participation in political campaigns in
support of, or in opposition to, candidates for public office.
"There is nothing wrong with working to elect Republicans, but you
can't violate the law to do it," said CREW Executive Director Melanie
Sloan. "Given the amount of money the American Future Fund spent on ads
in the 2010 congressional elections, it seems clear the primary - if not
only - goal of the group is to elect Republicans to Congress."
According to reports AFF filed with the Federal Election Commission,
AFF spent almost $10 million on political activities in 2010 - a sum
greater than the organization's total expenditures for 2008 and 2009
combined. AFF spent more than $7.3 million in the 2010 election on
independent expenditures expressly advocating the election or defeat of
candidates for federal office, and at least another $2.2 million on
electioneering communications - ads that mention a candidate by name
close to an election. News reports described the AFF as "one of the
more active players in this fall's campaigns, spending millions of
dollars on ads attacking Democrats across the country." In addition,
the New York Times reported that as of October 17, 2010, AFF
had devoted more than half of its television advertising spending in
2010 to express advocacy advertisements.
The list of AFF's officers reads like a who's who of Iowa Republican
politics. Nicole Schlinger, AFF's sole board member when it was
organized, is the former finance director for the Republican Party of
Iowa. The current president, Sandra Greiner, served as a Republican in
the Iowa House of Representatives from 1992-2008, was elected to the
state Senate in 2010. AFF reportedly got its initial seed money from
Bruce Rastetter, CEO of Hawkeye Energy Holdings, who has been described
by Iowa newspapers as a "long-time power broker in Iowa politics."
In its initial filings with the IRS, AFF claimed its activities were
"strictly issue based and non-partisan" and that it "does not support or
oppose any candidate for public office."
"How can an organization that has a sitting Republican legislator as
its chief executive claim to be non-partisan?" said Ms. Sloan. "It is
clear the American Future Fund is a front for wealthy Republicans to
anonymously spend millions electing Republicans to Congress."
Spurred on by the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision,
AFF and other outside groups spent almost $300 million to elect the
112th Congress. As 501(c)(4) organizations, AFF and others are allowed
to raise unlimited amounts of money without having to disclose their
donors, but they cannot engage in political campaign activity as their
primary purpose -- a requirement AFF (and others) ignore. CREW
highlighted some of the most egregious offenders on both sides of the
political spectrum by naming its 2010 election all stars, which included AFF President Sandy Greiner.
"Citizens United put a for sale sign on every ballot box across the
country," said Ms. Sloan. "It is time for Congress to act and put this
genie back in the bottle. Elections should be won by the candidates
with the best ideas, not by innocuous sounding groups funded by
anonymous donors with secret agendas."
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Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials -- regardless of party affiliation -- who sacrifice the common good to special interests. CREW advances its mission using a combination of research, litigation and media outreach.