Washington, D.C.— June 21, 2023—Today, the non-partisan ethics watchdog, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), filed a complaint requesting the Federal Election Committee (FEC) investigate whether U.S. Senate Candidate Keith Gross of Florida used non-federal funds from an entity that Gross formed called “Advancing Florida” for campaign purposes, and additionally whether the group should have registered as a political committee.
Keith Gross, a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Florida, is the subject of an FEC complaint relating to the 501(c)(4) entity he started, “Advancing Florida.” For any federal election, contributions to campaigns are subject to limitations, prohibitions, and reporting requirements according to federal campaign law. A candidate is not allowed to circumvent these laws and receive unlimited (and unaccounted for) contributions by using a third-party group to campaign. Among other facts showing it campaign purpose, Advancing Florida spent several thousand dollars running 60 different campaign-style Facebook ads that promoted Gross and sought to collect data from Florida primary voters.
As the complaint alleges, although Advancing Florida is a corporation, numerous facts show that Gross has used Advancing Florida for his federal campaign, which is evident from: (1) Advancing Florida running 60 ads that were literally promoting Gross both via its Facebook page and via Gross’ Facebook page; (2) the only written content posted on Advancing Florida’s website is attacking Gross’ primary opponent; (3) identical content posted on both Gross’ campaign and Advancing Florida’s websites showing its true campaign purpose; and (4) when it was created, Gross’ campaign Facebook page stating that Advancing Florida was responsible for the page. Furthermore, as it pertains to Advancing Florida, assisting Gross' campaign appears to be its “major purpose.” Taken together, these facts are evidence of a clear violation of federal law.
Additionally, given the facts above, FACT filed a second complaint with the IRS requesting the agency review whether Advancing Florida should be stripped of its nonprofit designation due to Advancing Florida’s actions seemingly not being consistent with its status as a 501(c)(4).
“Under absolutely no circumstance can someone launch a 501(c)(4) corporation and then plainly campaign with it prior to or after announcing their candidacy. Anyone with even a cursory understanding of our system would never even conceive this to be acceptable, ethical, or legal. The evidence in this case demonstrates that this is precisely what happened here and, if after an investigation the FEC confirms this, they should hold him accountable and enforce these fundamental campaign laws,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director of FACT.
A full copy of the FEC complaint can be found HERE, which includes examples of the campaign-style ads.
A full copy of the IRS complaint can be found HERE.
FACT is a nonprofit organization promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas. For more on FACT, visit: http://www.factdc.org/