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A former Illinois congressional candidate and a government watchdog organization have teamed up to sue the Internal Revenue Service, claiming the agency should bar dark money groups from funding political ads.
The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday by David Gill, his campaign committee and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, is the first to challenge how the IRS regulates political spending by social welfare nonprofits, campaign-finance experts say.
As ProPublica has reported, these nonprofits, often called dark money groups because they don’t have to identify their donors, have increasingly become major players in politics since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling in early 2010.
BP has already accepted criminal responsibility for the disaster, pleading guilty last November to manslaughter and lying to Congress and paying $4.5 billion in fines. It reached a separate $7.8 billion settlement earlier last year with thousands of local individuals that suffered economic damages because of the oil disaster.
But Bondy indicated the company had become stuck trying to reach a deal on the big ticket item: up to $21 billion in fines for environmental damage arising from the oil disaster.
The fines, which would be levied under the Clean Water Act, would go directly for coastal restoration in Louisiana, Mississippi, and other Gulf states. More than 40 lawyers for federal and state governments are expected to be in court on Monday.
At issue are BP’s efforts to stop the doomed Macondo well, which gushed for three months before it was finally sealed off by company engineers.