Laxalt’s group accused of illegal fundraising scheme in Virginia
In Case You Missed It, new reporting reveals corrupt politician Adam Laxalt’s involvement in an alleged illegal fundraising scheme with Americans for Public Trust, which Laxalt has represented as the group’s outside counsel while working at his Washington, DC law firm Cooper & Kirk.
This is not the first time Laxalt has been caught in a fundraising scandal. His political group, APT, is facing potential legal action for misusing its charity status, and Laxalt himself ended up in the center of a federal corruption trial because of his links to a Russian oligarch funneling campaign cash to U.S. politicians.
Igor Derysh // 6.21.22
New complaint says Americans for Public Trust is illegally raising millions while airing GOP propaganda
A Virginia group that bills itself as a “nonprofit, nonpartisan” watchdog group has illegally solicited millions while pushing Republican-aligned messaging, according to a complaint filed by a watchdog organization on Thursday.
Americans for Public Trust, which bills itself as an ethics watchdog, is illegally fundraising in Virginia, according to a complaint filed by the Campaign for Accountability, a nonprofit watchdog group, to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the commonwealth’s attorney for the city of Alexandria, where APT is based.
APT, which describes itself as an “independent” organization that is “dedicated to restoring trust in government,” focuses largely on targeting Democrats with election ethics complaints.
The group was founded in 2020 by Sutherland, the former research director for the National Republican Congressional Committee who previously worked at the Mitch McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund. Former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt served as the group’s outside counsel and was branded the “Nevada version of Rudy Giuliani” after leading former President Donald Trump’s failed efforts to overturn his election loss (he is already threatening to file lawsuits challenging 2022 votes that haven’t been cast). Annie Talley, the group’s president, was a “trusted aide” to Trump and shepherded Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination as deputy White House counsel.
A complaint filed earlier this year by End Citizens United, a group that supports campaign finance reform, called on the IRS to revoke the group’s tax-exempt status by violating the agency’s ban on political activity with “unsupported and misleading” political attack ads.
The Campaign for Accountability filed a separate complaint on Thursday with the state accusing APT of “ongoing violations” of the state’s law on soliciting contributions.
“Moreover, it appears Americans for Public Trust may have illegally solicited millions of dollars in contributions since it began operations in 2020,” the complaint said, raising questions about the group’s fundraising practices. The group projected that it would raise about $1.65 million in 2020 and proved “remarkably prescient,” the complaint said, when it raised $1.489 million despite being in operation for less than a year. The group received $900,000 of that from a single anonymous contribution through Donor Trust, which has been described as the “dark-money ATM of the conservative movement.”
Tiffany Muller, the president of End Citizens United, called APT’s political ads the “height of hypocrisy.”
“APT exists for one reason and one reason alone: to help the Republican Party win elections. It’s the height of hypocrisy for this GOP group to launch false political attacks about corruption and unethical behavior, while inappropriately receiving tax benefits as a charitable nonprofit,” she said in a statement. “This organization is run by political operatives and Adam Laxalt, a Republican politician with a history of trouble with the law, so it should come as no surprise that they would try to skirt the rules.”