Crossroads thinks it was caught up in IRS targeting campaign

(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Crossroads GPS, the largest right-leaning advocacy group during the 2012 election cycle, believes it was one of the conservative groups the Internal Revenue Service targeted for special scrutiny as part of a campaign the agency apologized for earlier this month.

"From everything we know about what other groups have been though, Crossroads was one of the targeted groups," group spokesman Jonathan Collegio said in an interview Friday.

The IRS apologized on May 10 for inappropriately targeting conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status as so-called "social welfare" groups, which can produce limited issue advertising and engage in some political activity as long as politics is not their primary purpose.

During its targeting campaign, the IRS asked some conservative groups, including several interviewed for a recent Washington Post article, to provide names of donors or membership lists, which experts say the IRS cannot legally do.

The agency also demanded names of board members, information about donations, copies of meeting minutes and résumés, details of community organizing efforts and various other details.

Collegio declined to comment on whether the IRS subjected Crossroads to similar scrutiny, but he said the group's application remains in limbo. "To our knowledge, it has not moved," he said.

ProPublica last week reported that the same IRS division that targeted conservative groups provided the investigative-reporting organization with confidential tax-exemption applications, including one for Crossroads.

Collegio said on Monday that his group assumes it was targeted based on "the criteria used by the IRS to target conservative groups, the timing, the still-outstanding application and the leaking of the application from the Cincinnati office, and other things."

Unlike charities, so-called "social welfare" groups can operate without paying taxes even without IRS approval. Crossroads -- co-founded by GOP strategist and former deputy chief of staff for President George W. Bush, Karl Rove -- and its sister super PAC raised $300 million during 2012 alone.

The Los Angeles Times first reported on this issue Monday.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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