I just came across this Ben Smith Politico post I missed when it came out during the J Street funding imbroglio. It notes that, at least according to J Street, the IRS was at fault for posting publicly the names of the donors to its 501c4. Here’s the organization’s statement:
We are also committed to protecting the privacy of our donors, which is guaranteed by law in the case of contributions to our 501(c)(4) and was egregiously violated by the Internal Revenue Service in erroneously and illegally making our donor schedule available to the public.
But there’s something here which doesn’t make sense (at least to me) and Smith notes it. A 501c4 doesn’t have to report its donor lists to the IRS, so why did J Street?
…A politically conservative Jewish blogger, Jeff Dunetz…turned them [the donor list] up on a search for public form 990s on the Foundation Center’s database…which are the tax returns non-profit groups are required to make public. They are not, however, required to include publicly the pages listing their donors.
Personally, I’ve seen numerous 990s in which non-profits list their donors. So blaming the IRS for this seems silly. J Street didn’t need to include the names and it did. Either it got bad advice from an accountant or it just bungled things.
All of this is prologue though for some online digging of my own. I did this because during my coverage of the Eli Lake-manufactured J Street story (especially in light of the U.S. Chamber’s massive infusion of foreign money into the current Congressional elections), I asked why journalists aren’t doing as much due diligence regarding the reports filed by right wing Jewish groups. Unfortunately, my search didn’t bring up anything quite as explosive as George Soros’ “secret” gift, but there were a few eye-openers nonetheless.
A peek through Aipac’s 990 reveals that it raised $60-million in 2009 and $92-million on hand at that year’s end. It paid Howard Kohr, its president, a cool $553,000. And Richard Fishman, its executive director, $400,000 plus an unspecified “business transaction” totaling $370,000. It also reveals transfers in the tens of millions to the American Israel Education Foundation, the Aipac arm which finances political junkets to Israel.
The Republican Jewish Coalition took in $6-million in 2009. Of that, over $2-million went to Jamestown Associates for TV and print ads attacking Democratic candidates. Ari Fleischer’s outfit made $120,000, a cool bit of change. RJC paid Matt Brooks, its director, a paltry $500,000. Some interesting names among its board of directors: Shelly Adelson, Jimmy Tisch, Bernie Marcus, Ken Mehlman, Fred Sands, Martin Selig, Mel Sembler, Ken Bialkin, Ari Fleischer, and David Frum.
The 990 form contains this hilarious RJC lie, which shows how such non-profits make a mockery of the non-profit tax code:
The coalition does not directly participate in political activities.
- Political Points – RJC links candidates to Soros (although he didn’t contribute to PAC) (blogs.jta.org)