Many lawyers in the nonprofit space were no doubt alarmed by a recent episode involving a Soros-funded, anti-“disinformation” group. The group, the Good Information Foundation, was caught asking popular TikTok personality Preston Moore to make a video attacking “Trump Republicans” intended for this campaign season.
Recovered emails show the Foundation’s Board Chair Rick Stengel pushing for the video to contain certain key “messaging notes”, including that the “violence on January 6 was actually planned and paid for by Trump Republicans”; that J/6 had “broad involvement” from members of Congress, and that “there is an ongoing threat of political violence or MAGA Republicans trying to overturn elections.”
In the emails, Stengel explicitly says the intention of the video was to “channel all of this on to the manipulation of voter agencies” and to “make people more likely to vote in the midterms.”
(I asked the group if Stengel was forced to resign after no longer seeing his name on their site but never received a reply.)
That an anti-“disinformation” group is actually working to spread, not counter, disinformation is troubling enough. More troubling still is that the group was recently given tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status by the IRS. This designation is supposed to be conditioned on, among other things, the recipient working in the “public interest” and staying out of “political activity” and “campaign interventions.”
While an IRS complaint has been filed against the Foundation, it is rare for conservatives to engage with the agency’s nonprofit enforcement section when it comes to unlawful activity from extremist nonprofits. It really should not be. From the scandals involving ACORN’s nonprofit network to the recent lawsuit against the Black Lives Matter movement—as well as groups on the extreme right—, these sorts of violations are not uncommon. And there are plenty of targets among the left. As progressive writer David Callahan admits in his book The Givers, however, the nonprofit world that supports socialist and Marxist policies towers above its conservative counterpart, in terms of group numbers and advocacy dollars.
Meanwhile, it is remarkably easy to file these sorts of complaints. The IRS form is an email-able one-pager and anyone can submit them. And with social media, it’s easier than ever to catch groups violating their status.
Two violations stand-out for conservatives to take advantage of. The first, as mentioned, is for “political activity/campaign interventions.” This includes not only a nonprofit making campaign contributions, but also merely endorsing (or trashing) a candidate over social media.
It also simply includes a nonprofit comparing its position on a particular issue with that of a candidate during an election or combining voter drives with partisan messaging. Despite such simple violations potentially leading to a penalty or loss of tax-free status, it is not hard to find groups committing them on social media.
Even so, such complaints are rare.
Even though they’re easy to file. Sounds like it could be an enjoyable hobby for some people. Much more at the link.