Wade Rathke writes at the Chief Organizer blog:
New Orleans: It turns out that just like the song says, “it’s hard on a pimp” or a “punk” or a “pretend pimp,” which turns out is the case for video-sting-man James O’Keefe and his futile attempts to “come clean” and pull off his greatest ironic caper: boy journalist.
You know it’s a dog pile when something as staid, boring and nose-in-the-air as The Chronicle of Philanthropy takes a look down at your problems, but sure enough, O’Keefe wants to make sure he gives his right-wing buddies a tax break for supporting his chicanery, so he’s applied for tax exempt 501c3 status for his paradoxically named “Project Veritas,” which used to be Latin for truth, but who knows what O’Keefe thinks it stands for. But here’s the Chronicle’s cut:
“An attempt to visit Mr. O’Keefe at Project Veritas’s official address in Washington—2100 M Street N.W., Suite 170-241—was also unsuccessful. Suite 170 is a UPS store and No. 241 is a small mailbox that rents for $35 a month.
Project Veritas’s first step in getting an exemption is to file an application with the IRS known as Form 1023.
As part of that application process, Project Veritas must meet key requirements about how the group is organized and operated and spell out what charitable mission it will pursue.
Organizations must also prove that their assets do not unjustly enrich board members or officers and that board members do not pursue business activities unrelated to their tax-exempt purpose. Applicants must also show that they do “not engage in activities that are illegal or violate fundamental public policy.”
…Mr. O’Keefe pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor crime after he and three others entered the office of Sen. Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, last year pretending to be telephone repairmen.
The fact that Mr. O’Keefe has stated in public that he would do it again, albeit “differently” would probably be the biggest stumbling block to gaining charity status, said Marc Owens, a Washington tax lawyer who formerly oversaw the IRS division that monitors tax-exempt groups.
“If he is proposing to do something that is, in fact, illegal, can the IRS believe, with any degree of credibility, what he is saying?” Mr. Owens said. “Is he going to continue to enter government offices illegally? He pled guilty to it once and said he would do it again. It’s reasonable to conclude that the organization may be engaged in criminal activity in the future.”
Bottom line: They are not sure you should get tax free donations when you announce that you may break the law with the money. Geez, they have kind of a point there.... >more