Raleigh, N.C. — A national watchdog groups has asked the IRS to sanction Carolina Rising, a nonprofit group that played a key role in North Carolina's 2014 U.S. Senate election, The Center for Public Integrity reported Tuesday.
The IRS complaint filed by CREW, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, says that, while Carolina Rising insisted it was airing issue ads, it was really providing a conduit for wealthy donors to back then-Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis in his campaign to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan. Tillis won that race.
In particular, the complaint points to tax code provisions that require a 501(c)(4) social welfare nonprofit like Carolina Rising to spend more than half its time and energy on something other than political campaigns. More than 97 percent of the group's money went toward ads that backed Tillis, the complaint said.
Carolina Rising was once headed by Dallas Woodhouse, who has since resigned to become executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party.
CREW bills itself as a nonpartisan group and has leveled complaints against both Republicans and Democrats.
On its 2014 IRS 990 tax filing, Carolina Rising reported raising and spending roughly $4.8 million. Nearly all of that – $4.6 million – went to Crossroads Media, a media production and buying firm founded by players associated with well-known Republican political adviser Karl Rove. The document doesn't reveal who the groups donors are.
When asked for comment about the complaint, Woodhouse texted “publicity stunt,” following it up with an email calling CREW a “blatantly partisan organization. What hypocrisy.”