Justin Elliott has finally solved the riddle of who gave $17-million to Clarion Fund to distribute 28 million DVDs of its anti-Muslim porn (not as in sex) film Obsession during the 2008 presidential election. Well, to be more specific, we know who, or more precisely what gave the gift to Clarion: Donor’s Capital Trust. But till now, we didn’t know who gave the gift to that arch-conservative donor advised fund. Now, we know, thanks to Justin that it was computer power strip king (bet you didn’t know there was such a beast, did you?) Barre Seid (bio). Here’s Clarion’s 990 form addendum documenting Seid’s gift). This complicated funding process, designed to provide plausible deniability to Seid, thus allows his assistant, in the Salon story, to deny Seid funded the film:
“Mr. Seid did not make any contributions to the Clarion Fund.”
She’s right, technically. He didn’t. DCT did. But DCT wouldn’t have without Seid’s gift to it. You see how these dudes operate? Is this legal? Should it be?
Elliott wouldn’t have known any of this unless Clarion’s accountant hadn’t made a serious error in filing Seid’s name on its 2008 IRS 990, something it didn’t need to do. Now that it has done so, Clarion is seeking to walk the horse back to the barn, but with considerable difficulty. It claims that the information filed in its 990 is in error. Excuse me? I don’t know what’s worse, making an error by divuling information that gets you in the dog’s house with a donor; or after the fact telling the IRS you goofed up the forms you filed with it. I know I wouldn’t want to be sitting in front of an IRS agent explaining to him how the data I submitted under penalty of perjury was actually wrong.
I don’t have any problem with anyone doing as Seid did for a project that is clearly non profit and non-partisan. But this specific project, distributing those DVDS during that election was a blatant political interference that usurped the IRS non-profit tax code. I hope to God some IRS agent is now reading this and putting in a call to Mr. Seid’s attorney seeking some answers and perhaps even an audit. While they’re at it they should haul in DCT and Clarion Fund as well. They both have some explaining to do.
In case anyone continues to doubt that the Barry Seid listed in the Clarion Fund filing is the same as Barre Seid, you could do any overlay of the latters private foundation with some of the DCT gifts to right wing Jewish charities. I’m betting that those gifts were donor-advised by Seid and that these are groups he also would’ve given to via his own private giving. Bingo. There’s $450,000 in gifts over a 10-year period from the Seid Foundation to the Foundation for Jewish Camping, and a $10-million 2008 gift (see Schedule A, p. 2 of 4) to the same group through Donors Capital. Perhaps not a smoking gun, but a bit of powder residue. Additionally, Elliot notes a $25,000 gift from the Seid Foundation to Donors Capital in 2005. Where there’s residue there was smoke, and where there was smoke, well…you know what followed smoke–$17-million!
The next time you see a power strip or surge protector or any other product made by Tripp-Lite Power Protection or Trippe Manufacturing, don’t buy it. You’re only enriching Barre Seid and encouraging him to fund another Obsession.