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Freedom Path was launched by backers of Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and ran ads supporting Hatch and other Republicans in 2012. It said it suffered damages because the IRS flagged its application for extra scrutiny and disclosed its pending application to ProPublica. Read more»

To see how easy it is for a dark money group to ignore the Internal Revenue Service, look no further than the loftily named Government Integrity Fund. The group spent most of its money on election ads, despite IRS rules prohibiting a social welfare nonprofit from doing so Read more»

Internal Revenue Service logo

A GOP-led House committee voted Wednesday to seek criminal charges against former IRS official Lois Lerner, who used to run the IRS division in charge of tax-exempt groups. In a party-line vote, the committee accused Lerner of unfairly targeting the applications of conservative groups and misleading the Treasury inspector general, which was auditing the IRS based on allegations of bias against conservative groups. Read more»

Obscure limited liability companies have ultimate say over the Koch network’s nonprofits, which spend hundreds of millions of dollars to advance conservative causes. Read more»

Sean Noble

For a brief, giddy moment, Sean Noble—a little-known former aide to an Arizona congressman—became one of the most important people in American politics. Plucked from obscurity by libertarian billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, Noble was tasked with distributing a torrent of political money raised by the Koch network, a complex web of nonprofits nicknamed the Kochtopus, into conservative causes in the 2010 and 2012 elections. Read more»

The IRS and Treasury Department announced proposed guidelines clarifying the definition of political activities for social welfare nonprofits Tuesday afternoon, a move that could restrict the spending of the dark money groups that dumped more than $254 million of anonymous money into the 2012 elections. Read more»

On its 2012 tax return, GOP strategist Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS justified its status as a tax-exempt social welfare group in part by citing its grants of $35 million to other similarly aligned nonprofits. The return specified that the grants would be used for social welfare purposes, “and not for political expenditures, consistent with the organization’s tax-exempt mission.” But that’s not what happened. Read more»

Two Arizona dark money groups linked to conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch have paid a record $1 million in fines to California to settle allegations that the combined $15 million they spent on two ballot proposals in the state was not properly disclosed. Read more»

In the furious fallout from the revelation that the IRS flagged applications from conservative nonprofits for extra review because of their political activity, some points about the big picture — and big donors — have fallen through the cracks. Consider this our Top 6 list of need-to-know facts on social welfare nonprofits, also known as dark money groups because they don’t have to disclose their donors. Read more»

The IRS division responsible for flagging Tea Party groups has long been an agency afterthought, beset by mismanagement, financial constraints and an unwillingness to spell out just what it expects from social welfare nonprofits, former officials and experts say. Read more» 2

The same IRS office that deliberately targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 election released nine pending confidential applications of conservative groups to ProPublica late last year. Read more» 2

In August 2008, as the right wing of the Republican Party grew increasingly disenchanted with the party’s direction, the men from Russo, Marsh and Associates sensed opportunity: They created a political action committee, Our Country Deserves Better, and in time launched the Tea Party Express. Read more»

David Gill

A former Illinois congressional candidate and a government watchdog organization have teamed up to sue the Internal Revenue Service, claiming the agency should bar dark money groups from funding political ads. Read more»

California voters cast their ballots in November.

Five conservative dark money groups active in 2012 elections previously told tax regulators that they would not engage in politics, including Arizona-based Americans for Responsible Leadership, which spent more than $5.2 million - mainly to support Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Read more» 1

Crossroads GPS, the brainchild of GOP strategist Karl Rove that has spent tens of millions from secret donors on elections, told the IRS in its 2010 application that its efforts would focus on education, policy-making and research.

In a confidential 2010 filing, Crossroads GPS — the dark money group that spent more than $70 million from anonymous donors on the 2012 election — told the Internal Revenue Service that its efforts would focus on public education, research and shaping legislation and policy. Read more»

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