After covering the campaign to distribute 28 million DVDs of the anti-Muslim documentary, Obsession, to sway voters to vote Republican in crucial swing states, I’ve decided to file an IRS complaint (form 13909) against the Clarion Fund, which produced the film and distributed it. There are too many subterfuges involved in the production of this film and the way that Clarion does business.
It is a 501c3 non-profit organization. That’s why the film’s packaging makes this bogus claim:
Clarion Fund is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization devoted to educating the public about national security issues.
501c3’s are prohibited from engaging in direct partisan political activity. Yet Radical Islam, another Clarion website, featured an endorsement of John McCain’s candidacy. It is Republican bedrock principle to frighten American voters with the bogeyman of Islamic terror. If they do, they figure they win as they have a lock on the national security vote. George Bush, Dick Cheney and now, John McCain have done this since 9/11. Similarly, Raphael Shore, the film’s producer and director of Clarion Fund, bets that any voter he can scare with this film is likely to vote Republican.
The Republican Jewish Coalition has sent out mass mailings of Obsession to various Jewish mailing lists. Right-wing evangelical groups distributed it at both national political conventions. The film’s packaging features this message:
The threat of Radical Islam is the most important issue facing us today. But it’s a topic that neither the presidential candidates nor the media are discussing openly (!). It’s our responsibility to ensure we can all make an informed decision come November.
In short, everything about this film and Clarion Fund is partisan and political. As such, the latter has clearly violated IRS regulations governing the behavior of non-profit organizations.
Further, every non-profit is required to file an IRS form 990 and make it accessible to the public. Clarion Fund acknowledges it has not done so. Gregory Ross, it’s PR flack claims it’s level of activity was not substantial enough to meet the threshold for filing a 990. I’m no expert on 501c3 regulations (though I AM a former non-profit fundraiser), but this sounds entirely bogus to me. This is another issue that the IRS should investigate as part of my complaint.
Will Evans of Truthdig writes that 501c3’s do not have to reveal their donor lists. This could be a golden reason why Shore has registered as a non-profit. He gives his donors the opportunity to make tax-deductible gifts to Clarion at the U.S. taxpayer’s expense. In the meantime, he can conceal their identity in ways that would not be possible were Clarion a different type of entity.
Finally, if anyone doubts the partisan nature of this film, the list of interviewees includes Alan Dershowitz, fake PLO terrorist Walid Shoebat, Nonie Darwish, Brigitte Gabriel, and Muslim-hater Daniel Pipes. Among the endorses with blurbs listed on the DVD are Jewish neocon Michael Medwed, an analyst from the right-wing Hudson Institute, and a professor from the U.S. Navy War College.
I’ve just discovered that CAIR has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against the Clarion Fund, claiming it is a front for Aish HaTorah and is shilling for the McCain campaign. CAIR believes the funding for distribution of the DVDs comes from Aish. My money is still on the RJC, but who knows.