Conservative Solutions Project, an outside group promoting Republican Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign, has spent nearly $8.5 million in TV ads — making it the second-biggest advertiser in the 2016 Republican race so far. But the group’s apparent support for a single presidential candidate has raised questions about the advertisements’ legality.
The ads, which have aired in the early nominating states of Iowa and New Hampshire, have featured Rubio denouncing the Iran deal and delivering one of his early political speeches in 2015 — months before Rubio’s own campaign started running its first TV ad this week.
And unlike a Super PAC, Conservative Solutions Project doesn’t have to disclose its donors because it exists as a tax-exempt social welfare group under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code.
But it’s precisely that tax-code designation that has campaign-finance watchdogs alleging the Conservative Solution Project ads are illegal — because they are benefitting an individual presidential candidate rather than advancing the social welfare.
“I think they’re breaking the law,” Paul S. Ryan of the Campaign Legal Center tells NBC News.
Earlier this month, the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21, another campaign-finance watchdog, asked the Justice Department to launch an investigation into Conservative Solutions Project.