Washington, D.C. – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission and requested that the Department of Justice investigate the American Conservative Union (ACU) and Now or Never PAC for a $1.71 million conduit contribution the ACU funneled to Now or Never in 2012. The ACU — currently hosting the Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington — amended its tax return in 2014 to reveal it acted as a conduit for an unknown donor in making the contribution, a violation of federal law.
Click here to read CREW's requests:
On October 31, 2012, Now or Never PAC reported receiving $1,710,000 from the ACU, the largest contribution the super PAC reported to the FEC. Nevertheless, ACU’s initial tax return, filed in 2013, did not disclose the contribution and asserted the group did not engage in any direct or indirect political campaign activities in 2012. In May 2014, after an independent audit of its finances, ACU amended its tax return to disclose the contribution to Now or Never. ACU admitted on the amended return, however, it simply acted as a pass-through for the massive contribution, and that the money did not come from ACU’s funds. The ACU has not disclosed the source of the contribution.
“Over the course of three days at CPAC, speaker after speaker has denounced supposedly oppressive federal laws at a conference sponsored by an organization that doesn’t even bother to follow them,” said CREW Interim Executive Director Anne Weismann. “Given that the ACU was able to flagrantly violate election law for two years, maybe its fears of big government are unfounded.”
Federal law makes it a crime to make a contribution in someone else’s name and knowingly permit one’s name to be used to effect the contribution in the name of another person. By allowing an unknown person to make a $1.71 million donation to Now or Never PAC under ACU’s name, both the ACU and the unknown contributor violated federal law. Additionally, Now or Never violated the law if it knowingly accepted a contribution from someone else under ACU’s name.
“Schemes like the ACU’s to conceal the source of big money in politics have only become more common in the wake of Citizens United,” continued Ms. Weismann. “If the FEC and DOJ are going to stop a flood of anonymous cash from taking over our democracy, it really is now or never.”
Read the response CREW received from the FEC