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“The key thing here is campaign intervention. Lobbying — groups complain about that all the time, and I’ve been on both sides of the complaint,” Mr. Mayer said. “It’s the political campaign intervention which is deadly.”

But he said it must be clear that the group’s resources were used to endorse a campaign and that leaders are able to engage in political activity in their personal capacities.

Mr. Mayer said the IRS ran audits in 2004, 2006 and 2008 on some groups where questions had been raised, but that the agency has not said anything about audits during the 2010 election cycle, nor announced any plans for audits this year.

In those earlier instances, groups usually pleaded ignorance and were issued a warning.

CASA reported nearly $10 million in grants and donations in 2009, and generated another $2.1 million in revenue from its programs and $74,538 from investment income.

That same year, CASA paid $4.3 million in salaries and benefits and spent $2.2 million on the rest of its expenses, including lobbying. It ended the year with $12.8 million in net assets.