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June 30, 2015

Transparency No Longer So Important to the RSLC, Apparently

By Matt Corley

IRS 990 with cashBeginning in 2006, the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), a political organization focused on helping the GOP win down-ballot state-level campaigns, held itself to a higher standard when it came to disclosing its finances. Though the group is only required to publicly report its donors and expenses to the Internal Revenue Service quarterly (or semiannually, depending on the year), the RSLC elected to file its disclosure forms on a monthly basis.

The RSLC says it made this choice out of a commitment to transparency (emphasis added):

Is the RSLC a 527 organization?
Yes. The RSLC is registered and files reports with the Internal Revenue Service under 26 U.S.C. 527. Because transparency is important to the RSLC we have voluntarily decided to file reports of all contributions and expenditures on a monthly basis. The RSLC is also registered and reports in many states across the country pursuant to each states specific campaign finance laws.

Well, at least the group used to say that. The above quote is taken from an archived version of the RSLC’s website from June 2014. The current website, which is now hosted on the .gop domain, no longer mentions transparency and doesn’t commit the RSLC to making monthly disclosures. 

The most likely reason for this is that the RSLC has actually stopped filing its disclosure reports, known as Form 8872s, with the IRS on a monthly basis. As of today, the last time the RSLC filed an 8872 was in February 2015, and that report covered the end of 2014. The RSLC does not appear to have announced any kind of change to its transparency principles. 

At this point in 2013, the last non-election year in which the RSLC filed reports monthly, the organization had already disclosed raising more than $7 million. That early haul included six figure contributions from Devon Energy, Exxon Mobil, Facebook, Wellpoint, Wal-Mart, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The RSLC had also disclosed receiving $54,500 from Koch Industries. On the spending side, the organization had disclosed four contributions, including $15,000 to Crossroads Generation, a youth-focused super PAC with ties to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads. The RSLC’s disclosure revealed the contribution two months before Crossroads Generation made it public in a report with the Federal Election Commission.

The RSLC is a well-funded, powerful organization that has been credited with playing a major role in the GOP’s gains on the state level. As a political group organized under section 527 of the tax code that reports to the IRS, the RSLC is free to file on a more leisurely basis. It’s probably a good thing, however, that the group no longer brags about an extra special commitment to transparency. 

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