Senate Democrat urges IRS to review tax-exempt status of pro-Trump group Turning Point USA

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) speaks during the third day of the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S., October 14, 2020.

Drew Angerer | Reuters

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., has called on the head of the Internal Revenue Service to review the tax-exempt status of Turning Point USA, a dark money organization led by pro-Trump activist Charlie Kirk.

In a letter Tuesday to IRS commissioner Charles Rettig, Whitehouse said that the 501(c)(3) nonprofit student group should have their tax-exempt status reviewed because he believes they broke Covid-19 regulations when they reportedly hosted two large events in Florida.

One of those gatherings, according to the Washington Post, was at Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s private club.

Read the letter here.

“According to press reports and social media posts, many participants gathered and mingled indoors without wearing masks, in violation of Palm Beach County’s COVID-19 regulations.” Whitehouse told Rettig in the letter.

“In holding these ‘superspreader’ events, Turning Point USA knowingly exposed hundreds of young people and staff working at the events to serious risk of infection,” he added.

“Accordingly, I urge the IRS to review whether it should revoke Turning Point USA’s tax-exempt status,” he later says in the letter.

A Turning Point representative didn’t respond to a request for comment.

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, shakes hands with moderator Charlie Kirk after a discussion at the Generation Next forum in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Whitehouse is the latest member of the Senate Finance Committee to recently call on the IRS to investigate conservative dark money organizations. These organizations are known as dark money groups because they do not publicly disclose their donors.

Sen. Ron Wyden, who is the ranking Democrat on the finance committee but is expected to be the chairman after Democrats take over the majority this week, requested the IRS look into groups that were involved with organizing the Jan. 6 rally that led to a riot on Capitol Hill.

Democrats will have control of committees after their wins in the Georgia Senate runoffs. There will be a 50-50 split in the Senate, but Democrats will have a tie-breaking vote in Kamala Harris, who will become vice president Wednesday.

Turning Point Action, a 501(c)(4) group affiliated with Turning Point USA, bused supporters to the rally. A Turning Point Action spokesperson previously told CNBC that the students got back on their buses after the rally, did not take part in the march, and condemned the violence that ensued at the U.S. Capitol.

Whitehouse has previously targeted dark money organizations, including with legislation that would reveal their donors. Whitehouse, who is also on the judiciary committee, recently took aim at them during a confirmation of hearing of Amy Coney Barrett, who was eventually confirmed onto the Supreme Court.

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