A Dark Money IOU

Campaign Finance, Policy

This is an article I co-authored on the latest project I’ve working on at the Center for Responsive Politics:

  • In Oklahoma, a dark money group tried to get the state’s GOP House speaker, T.W. Shannon, elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014. Though it claimed to be a social welfare nonprofit, Oklahomans for a Conservative Future spent most of its money that year on pro-Shannon political advocacy.
  • Along the way, at least one of those running the group also worked for consulting firms paid by the Shannon campaign itself. And an affidavit given in connection with drug charges against OCF’s co-founder suggested the group may have been acting as an extension of Shannon’s campaign.
  • OCF owned up to overspending on politics in a letter to the IRS — but told the agency not to worry, because in 2015 it made up for the transgression.
  • Even if that kind of accounting were allowed — which it’s not, experts say — the group appears to have done little more since Shannon’s defeat than run ads made by a trade group of independent oil and gas producers.
  • The link between the trade group and the nonprofit? Former Rep. J.C. Watts, lobbyist for the trade group and former employer of several of the nonprofit’s board members.

Read the full article on OpenSecrets.orgNonprofit cops to too much politicking, sends IRS an IOU

Could criminal complaints be a new way to tackle dark money?

Campaign Finance, Law

My piece for the Center for Responsive Politics‘ OpensSecrets blog:

Could criminal complaints be a new way to tackle dark money?