Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Watchdog Organization Files Complaint with IRS on Non-Profit 'Dark Money' Group Linked to Greitens

Carolina Hidalgo
St. Louis Pubic Radio

A government watchdog group has filed a complaint with the IRS, alleging that a nonprofit group violated its tax-exempt status through its involvement with former governor Eric Greitens’ campaign.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, filed the complaint. It says the nonprofit group Freedom Frontier violated its 501 (c) 4 status because more than half of its total spending went to political organizations—and by law, it’s not supposed to spend more than half of its funds on political causes.

Noah Bookbinder is the executive director of CREW.

“You’re not allowed to do that, that’s abuse of the system,” Bookbinder said. “It stops the public from knowing who is funding the political ads that they are seeing.”

CREW alleges that Freedom Frontier gave $4.4 million to political organizations in 2016—and that accounted for nearly three-fourths of the group’s spending. 

According to the watchdog agency, much of that contributed money was spent on ads in Missouri’s gubernatorial race, supporting Eric Greitens and attacking his opponents.

Non-profit groups are not required to disclose their donors, but super PACs are.

Transparency groups say using so-called dark money non-profits is a clever way to keep the public from knowing who holds power over their elected officials.

Also according to CREW, Freedom Frontier’s tax return shows how it is tied to a former Greitens campaign consultant by the name of Nick Ayers. Ayers is currently vice president Mike Pence’s chief of staff.