Federal prosecutors are scrutinizing at least 10 political nonprofit groups to determine if the groups defrauded donors. Subpoenas signed by a Manhattan-based federal prosecutor sought recordings of the fund-raising calls made by two separate networks of political nonprofits that together have raised tens of millions of dollars. In the last five years, the Justice Department has charged a handful of political operatives with fraud for running what prosecutors called “scam PACs.” Prosecutors said groups deceived donors by promising that their money would be used to help politicians and using it to enrich themselves, reports the New York Times.
The groups listed in the recent subpoenas have not been charged with any crime. One of two recent subpoenas sought recordings of fund-raising calls from five nonprofits that the Times had profiled a day earlier: the American Police Officers Alliance, the National Police Support Fund, the American Veterans Honor Fund, the Firefighters and EMS Fund and the Veterans Action Network. The subpoena said prosecutors were investigating allegations of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud. These groups are “527s,” named for a section of the tax code and overseen by the Internal Revenue Service. They are supposed to focus on helping candidates for office. Together, these five groups have raised $89 million since 2014, mostly from small-dollar donors who answered robocalls. The largest of the groups, the American Police Officers Alliance, promised to “support legislators whose goals are to keep our communities safer,” and to help the families of first responders killed in the line of duty. About 90 percent of the money raised was used to pay for more robocalls.