CfA Files IRS Complaint Against Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) for Violating IRS Law Prohibiting Political Activity
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 23, 2023
Contact: Michael Clauw, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA) sent a letter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requesting an investigation into Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF)—a Texas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit—for engaging in political campaign activity in violation of its tax-exempt status. In September 2022—just six weeks before the election—TPPF hosted at least five Republican candidates up for election to give speeches at the organization’s 2022 Victory Summit, a conference billed as a “donor retreat” and “council of war.” During their speeches, multiple candidates made overtly political statements and were actively encouraged by TPPF executive staff and board members in violating of IRS rules governing 501(c)93) organizations.
CfA Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith said, “This was not a slip up by a single speaker who didn’t know any better. Rather, TPPF flagrantly encouraged and engaged in political activity, despite knowing the group’s tax-exempt status forbids such conduct.”
On Friday, September 23rd, Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake was introduced by TPPF Chief Executive Officer Greg Sindelar to deliver “keynote remarks” at the Victory Summit. Both Ms. Lake and Mr. Sindelar made statements that constituted political campaign intervention. Ms. Lake, for example, spoke in support of her own candidacy and attacked her Democratic opponent, Katie Hobbs. At one point, when Ms. Lake noted that she knows that she is “not supposed to get into too much politics here,” Mr. Sindelar immediately interjected his support for such statements, saying “Oh, it’s fine!”
Several other candidates also made political statements at the 2022 Victory Summit, including Representative Chip Roy (R-TX), who as part of his comments said, “We should stop funding the things we campaign against. You want to tell every Republican you know stop funding the garbage you keep campaigning against.” TPFF Chief of Intelligence and Research Josh Trevino, on the dais with Rep. Roy, responded “Amen,” indicating the organization’s support for politically charged remarks that resembled a stump speech on key issues distinguishing candidates in the then-upcoming election.
Similarly, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)—also up for re-election—delivered a Victory Summit address during which he stated, “If it were up to me—and I do think we need a centralized message— here’s what it would look like for me; I would pick three and my three would be if you elect us we will…” followed by three pillars of his ideal political platform. TPPF Board Member Brooke Rollins echoed Senator Lee’s call, stating “And I often think that’s why we lose and have lost certain parts of our country that we’ve got to win back: because we are not providing the vision. And that’s what I think TPPF changed in Texas and hopefully DeSantis in Florida and others.” Ms. Rollins’ comment indicates TPPF’s role is to help shape GOP messaging through close collaboration with Republican candidates actively campaigning for election.
The 2022 Victory Summit may have been one of TPPF’s most brazen forays into political campaign intervention, it was not the sole such case. CfA’s letter also outlines multiple instances where TPPF-linked social media accounts have advocated for the election of specific candidates, and those who fit a specific profile—including one such post on election day 2022.
Ms. Kuppersmith continued, “Given TPPF’s apparently lengthy pattern of political campaign activities, the IRS has a duty to investigate. If the agency determines that any of TPPF’s actions do in fact constitute political campaign participation or intervention, TPPF’s tax-exempt status should be revoked.”
Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.