The Advocate: Washington Watch: New scrutiny of role of Rubio, Jindal backers


Paul S. Ryan, of the Campaign Legal Center, one of the two watchdog groups, said it appears Conservative Solutions Project is violating two regulations: a ban on spending by social welfare organizations to aid any one candidate and a requirement that the organizations devote more than half of their activity to benefiting the general public.

The legal center focused on the pro-Rubio group because of the amount of money involved and because of Rubio’s emergence as a major contender for the nomination, spokesman David Vance said.

“There are so many laws being broken right now that we have a laundry list of potential complaints,” he said.

One possible entry for that list, Ryan said, would be America Next, the dark-money group boosting a less prominent candidate for the Republican presidential nomination: Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Ryan emphasized that he has not investigated America Next. But in discussing America Next’s activities, he said, “It seems to exist for the purpose of promoting Bobby Jindal as a candidate” — which would be “impermissible.” ...

The Campaign Legal Center isn’t optimistic that the IRS will enforce the rules on the organizations to which the agency grants social welfare status. Worried about abuse of the rules, several Democratic senators in 2012 pushed for tighter regulation of the groups. But the resulting attempted crackdown was at best clumsy and at worst malicious, and it blew up in 2013 into the IRS targeting scandal. One predictable effect is the chilling of any additional effort by the agency.

So the complaint about the Conservation Solutions Project was directed to the Justice Department, not the IRS, Ryan said.

“The DOJ is really our last hope in the federal government,” he said.

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