“How a ‘shadow’ universe of charities joined with political warriors to fuel Trump’s rise”

Must-read WaPo:

Long before Trump promised to build a wall, ban Muslims and abandon the Paris climate accord, Horowitz used his tax-exempt group to rail against illegal immigrants, the spread of Islam and global warming. Center officials described Hillary Clinton as evil, President Barack Obama as a secret communist and the Democratic Party as a front for enemies of the United States.

The Freedom Center has declared itself a “School for Political Warfare,” and it is part of a loose nationwide network of like-minded charities linked together by ideology, personalities, conservative funders and websites, including the for-profit Breitbart News.

Horowitz’s story shows how charities have become essential to modern political campaigns, amid lax enforcement of the federal limits on their involvement in politics, while taking advantage of millions of dollars in what amount to taxpayer subsidies….

Horowitz makes a good living as the Freedom Center chief executive, earning $583,000 from a charity that received $5.4 million in donations in 2015, according to the latest available records. But he said he has come to believe that his group and others across the political spectrum ought to be reined in to ensure they fulfill the original spirit of the Internal Revenue Service’s charitable rules, even though such overhauls would be “personally devastating for me.”

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