Fact Check: Katie Hobbs' campaign fund shows IRS tax refund, not political contribution
The claim: The IRS donated to Katie Hobbs’ campaign
Arizona’s midterm elections have been a hotbed for misinformation, prompted in part by Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who frequently espoused the baseless conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was fraudulent.
Social media users are now spreading falsehoods about Lake’s Democratic opponent – now-Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs – claiming the Internal Revenue Service donated to her campaign.
“Who donated to Katie Hobbs for her political campaign? … The IRS,” says a woman in a Nov. 7 Instagram video. “Wait a minute, shouldn’t they be nonpartisan?”
The video includes a screenshot of a transaction of $6,189.57 from the IRS to the Hobbs campaign on the state’s Election Funds Portal.
But the claim is false for several reasons.
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The IRS said it does not donate to political campaigns. The Hobbs campaign explained the funds were a tax refund, not a campaign contribution.
USA TODAY reached out to the users who shared the claim for comment.
IRS spokesperson: The IRS does not contribute to political campaigns
“The Internal Revenue Service is a government agency; it does not contribute to political campaigns in any way, shape or form,” IRS spokesperson Jodie Reynolds said in an emailed statement to USA TODAY.
Indeed, the state’s website lists the $6,189.57 transfer of funds from the IRS to Hobbs’ campaign on March 18 as "non-contribution income," meaning it was not a political contribution at all. The Instagram video leaves out this information, and Sophia Solis, deputy communications director for the Arizona Secretary of State, said that online users are misunderstanding this distinction.
The money referenced in the posts was a payroll tax refund, according to Aida Ross, a spokesperson for Hobbs' campaign.
“The IRS received too much money from the campaign, and that was a refund back to the campaign,” Ross said.
Lead Stories and AFP Fact Check debunked the claim, too.
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that the IRS donated to Hobbs’ campaign. As a government entity, the IRS does not contribute to political campaigns. The figure in the post is categorized as non-contribution income, conveying that it was not a political contribution. A spokesperson from Hobbs’ campaign said the money was a payroll tax refund.
Our fact-check sources:
- Sophia Solis, Nov. 14, Email interview with USA TODAY
- Jodie Reynolds, Nov. 14, Email interview with USA TODAY
- Aida Ross, Nov. 16, Email interview with USA TODAY
- Pearson Sharp, Nov. 15, Email interview with USA TODAY
- Arizona Secretary of State’s Election Funds Portal, accessed Nov. 15
- CNN, Nov. 9, Kari Lake raises unfounded doubts about election results in Arizona governor race that’s too early to call
- Lead Stories, Nov. 10, Fact Check: IRS Did NOT Donate To Katie Hobbs Campaign -- Government Agencies Can NOT Donate To Political Campaigns
- AFP Fact Check, Nov. 9, IRS did not donate to Democratic governor candidate in Arizona
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