From AMERICAblog Elections: The Right’s Field (our new elections blog covering the GOP 2012 presidential candidates):
The AP is reporting that Newt Gingrich raised and funneled $150,000 in the last year to anti-marriage groups in Iowa so that he could protect the tax status of the organization doing the fundraising.
Potential presidential candidate Newt Gingrich quietly lined up $150,000 to help defeat Iowa justices who threw out a ban on same-sex marriage, routing the money to conservative groups through an aide’s political committee.
Gingrich, the former U.S. House speaker who has aggressively courted the conservatives who dominate Iowa’s lead-off presidential caucuses, raised the money for the political arm of Renewing American Leadership, also known as ReAL.
Campaign finance attorney Marcus Owens notes that funneling the money isn’t going to insulate Newt’s organization from legal backlash.
“It is not customary in the political world for large sums of money to shift hands without a clear objective,” said Marcus Owens, a Washington attorney who for a decade led the Internal Revenue Service tax-exempt division. “To give money unfettered to organizations that have announced they are going to be undertaking a recall effort is not going to protect you.”
This is a federal IRS violation but in motive it’s very similar to what Tom Delay was indicted for in Texas. I’m not sure what would trigger an investigation but funneling money to protect the tax status of Newt’s group seems illegal.