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CREW files IRS and FEC complaints on Nader and chairty

An ethics watchdog group asked the Federal Election Commission and the Internal Revenue Service yesterday to investigate an arrangement between Ralph Nader's presidential campaign and a charity that he created.

Nader and the charity, Citizen Works, committed "direct and serious violations of campaign finance law" when the campaign rented space and accepted phone service from the charity, according to a complaint filed with the FEC by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

In a separate letter to the IRS, the ethics group charged that Citizens Works, a charity formed in 2001 by Nader and the manager of his presidential campaign, Theresa Amato, breached its tax-exempt status by renting office space to Nader's campaign below market rate and by providing services for which the charity was not reimbursed.

Tax law prohibits public charities from aiding political campaigns. Violations can result in a charity losing its tax-exempt status. In addition, campaign finance law requires candidates to account for all contributions, including non-monetary donations.

Nader has denied that he broke any laws. He said that he paid market rate for the office space, had separate phone lines and vetted the arrangement with an outside lawyer. -- Ethics Group Seeks Inquiry on Nader (washingtonpost.com)