Koch and Rove Groups Facing New Legal Challenge from Democrats

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Sen. Chuck Schumer and a group of Democratic senators announced new legislation "to blunt the worst effects" of the Supreme Court's Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee today asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate three Republican-leaning nonprofits who are spending millions on the 2012 campaigns.

The groups are Crossroads GPS, co-founded by Karl Rove; Americans for Prosperity, which is linked to David and Charles Koch; and 60-Plus Association, which has ties to Crossroads political director Carl Forti. The latter also has indirect ties to the Kochs: In 2010, 60-Plus Association received $9 million from a separate nonprofit run by a Republican political consultant who has shared the podium at Koch-sponsored conferences for donors with AFP President Tim Phillips.

“These groups’ major purpose is to influence elections,” said the complaint filed by DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil. “These organizations are actually claiming that they are no more political than a church, a synagogue, or even the American Cancer Society. It is patently absurd and we certainly expect that the FEC would take action.”

Several other complaints have been filed against these nonprofit groups, incorporated under a section of the tax code that allows them to hide their donors. Senate Republicans have blocked legislation that would require such donations to be publicly disclosed; most of the nonprofits spending money on campaigns support Republicans.

Whether the complaint amounts to anything significant is another issue. The FEC, which is deadlocked, 3-3, between Democratic and Republican commissioners, has not taken any action against these nonprofits. The Internal Revenue Service’s recent action to revoke the nonprofit status of a group that trains Democratic candidates has been seen by some experts as an indication that the agency will next look at groups such as Crossroads, as well as Priorities USA, a nonprofit formed by former aides to President Barack Obama.

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