Pro-Trump youth group illegally shielded donors while targeting Biden’s candidacy, watchdog says
A pro-Trump youth group responsible for funneling over $1 million into the 2020 elections has been accused of illegally shielding its donors despite federal courts requiring nonprofit political groups disclose their contributors to the public.
In announcing a complaint filed this week with the Federal Election Commission, the left-leaning watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington described Turning Point Action, founded by 27-year-old Charlie Kirk, as “yet another example of dark money groups being used to hide the true sources of big political spending.”
Turning Point Action’s failure to disclose its donors was “leaving the public in the dark about who is influencing their elections,” said CREW president Noah Bookbinder, “even when the law requires disclosure.”
While the FEC had not previously required nonprofit political groups to disclose all of their recipients, that changed after CREW filed a lawsuit in 2016 challenging the guidelines. Many groups have yet to update their practices, including Turning Point Action, which is associated with Mr Kirk’s Turning Point USA.
CREW cited FEC reports from August through December of last year in their complaint, which showed Turning Point Action had spent over $1.4 million on independent expenditures.
“Turning Point Action did not disclose any contributors in those reports, and despite the FEC notifying the group in early February that it was missing donor information in its reports, it did not correct its filings by last week’s deadline,” the watchdog group said in a statement.
In total, nonprofit groups like Turning Point Action disbursed over $1 billion throughout the latest national election cycle.
Lawmakers and watchdog groups alike have since called for campaign finance reform at a national level, as experts warned dark money groups were not updating their practices to oblige by federal court rulings.
“This is a rare instance where there is even now a strong campaign finance law, but a strong law only matters if it is enforced,” CREW said. “The American people need to know whose money is influencing politics so they can make better decisions to make government work for them.”
The group added: “With the kind of blatant violation we seem to have here, the FEC must promptly investigate.”
Turning Point, which largely focused its funding efforts on expanding into a robust social media presence during the previous election cycle, said in a statement to Axios that it “strongly disputes that mischaracterisations made by CREW.”
The group says on its website that its aim is to target Democrats. Throughout the election, Turning Point regularly attacked then-candidate Mr Biden. The group and its founder have since continued to condemn the president over his Democratic agenda.
The spokesperson said Turning Point “takes all political activity with utmost seriousness and has invested significant time, attention and top professional personnel into ensuring we are in compliance with all FEC guidance.”