Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), the PAC of Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly focused on gun control, is being forced to refund money to contributors after being caught accepting illegal donations.
One of the illegal donations was tied to Bette Midler’s private family foundation and another to the Rupa and Bharat B. Bhatt Foundation. Midler’s foundation gave $10,000 and the Bhatt foundation contributed $5,000.
According to The Center For Public Integrity, both donations were “strictly prohibited” by the IRS:
Nonprofits organized under Sec. 501(c)(3) of the U.S. tax code are restricted from “directly or indirectly” intervening in political campaigns. And private foundations–such as the Midler and Bhatt foundations–are also prohibited from lobbying to influence legislation.
Yet ARS has involved itself in political campaigns. It “backed the bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).” And when Manchin’s gun control bill failed, Giffords and her husband “pledged” to “use every means possible to make sure the constituents of these Senators [knew] that their elected officials ignored them.”
In light of these findings, ARS is in the process of refunding the contributions to Midler’s foundation and the Bhatt foundation. At the same time, ARS contends the contributions were legal–just “not appropriate.”
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins.