The N.C. Republican Party sent a complaint Wednesday to the IRS alleging five liberal-leaning nonprofits are violating federal tax law by advocating for political candidates.
The named groups: Democracy North Carolina, the Institute for Southern Studies, N.C. Justice Center, Progress North Carolina and Project Ricochet Inc. of North Carolina. All are 501(c)3 charities that can accept tax-exempt donations under the law but are not allowed to voice support for or against a particular candidate.
"The groups that you see listed ... have clearly broken the letter and the spirit of the law by directly injecting themselves in a political campaign," said GOP Chairman Robin Hayes in a press conference. (See complaint below.)
Democrats and liberal groups make similar claims about conservative nonprofits, such as Americans for Prosperity and Art Pope-backed groups, suggesting their issue advocacy -- which is allowed under the law -- steps into political territory.
Republicans disputed suggestions that the filing is a political ruse in an election year but attorney Kieran Shanahan, an attorney who filed the complaint on behalf of the party, acknowledged no resolution is likely this year. "We are hopeful that these organizations will come forward voluntarily and tell the people who have been making contributions that they are acting within the (limits) of the law," he said.
The bulk of the complaint nine-page complaint focuses on one effort, the Out of Control Campaign, which the liberal groups developed largely after House Speaker held an impromptu midnight special session to override a bill aimed at hurting the state's teacher's association.
A recent investigation by the Center for Public Integrity and the Center for Responsive Politics found nonprofit groups like these outspent the much-discussed super PACs in the 2010 election. And unlike superPACs, these nonprofits are not required to disclose their donors.