Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a political watchdog group that is calling for a criminal investigation of three conservatives who are connected to a “dark money” nonprofit. William Canfield, Scott Reed, and Wayne Berman have been connected to the Commission for Hope, Growth and Opportunity (CHGO), and now-defunct nonprofit which spent millions on campaign ads in 2010 House elections, but did not report the expenditures as such to the IRS.
The three conservatives in question have stated that they had minimal contact with the nonprofit, but that appears to be untrue. Especially as another consultant, Michael Mihalke of Meridian Strategies LLC, claims that he, Reed, and Berman split a $1.1 million “commission” paid by (CHGO).
The trio, and CHGO, were already investigated by the Federal Election Committee (FEC), but in a 3-3 vote they couldn’t decide on whether or not to pursue sanctions, and simply decided not to take action. They had already spent five years investigating the group.
Now, CREW is asking United States Attorney Channing D. Phillips to determine if the trio obstructed the FEC investigation by lying to the group, and whether or not they violated federal law in doing so. They are also suing the FEC for not pursuing action against the group, even though they determined back in 2010 that CHGO had broken the law. CREW called the dismissal of the investigation “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to the law.”
Nonprofits which are dedicated to “social welfare,” as CHGO apparently claims to be, are not allowed to make politics their primary activity. That means they need to spend most of their money on accomplishing their social welfare goals, while CHGO spent most of it on campaign ads, and then lied about it to the IRS.