According to Salon, a pro-Trump group is under investigation by the FBI after appearing to engage in a foreign-influence campaign and violate IRS rules regarding political activity by nonprofit organizations.
The probe’s scope includes two officials affiliated with the Urban Revitalization Coalition, a now-defunct organization which made headlines last year with suspicious cash giveaways to Black voters and subsequently lost its tax-exempt charity status, a person familiar with the investigation told Salon. The two men — Kareem Lanier and Darrell Scott, a Cleveland-area pastor and former Trump campaign official — also used the URC as a vehicle to “solicit donations” from foreign nationals, including influential Turkish businessmen, while they worked with Trump administration officials to attract new investment in “Opportunity Zones,” economically disadvantaged areas targeted for new incentives under the former president’s 2017 tax bill.
Salon reported the Turkish connections in a two-part series last September.
Some of the solicitations were floated by former MAGA-world star Rabia Kazan, a Turkish author whom Scott and Lanier brought into the URC to facilitate such connections, according to Kazan and people with knowledge of the arrangement. Multiple people told Salon that the group had also approached Americans for donations in exchange for access to the Trump White House. Former Trump officials told Salon that such deals included tickets to a White House Easter Egg Roll, and that Scott was suspected of using his Cleveland church to funnel untraceable large-dollar contributions to Trump’s inauguration.
Salon noted that the URC garnered national headlines last year “when it held campaign-adjacent events with cash giveaways for Black voters in underprivileged communities, including a $25,000 raffle — which the organization had promised the IRS it would not do.”
Politico described the raffles as part of a national strategy to hold events “in Black communities where they lavish praise on the president while handing out thousands of dollars in giveaways.”
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