Sunday, February 12, 2012

Far Right political activists with a tax exempt status?

In a post yesterday I mentioned a seminar at the Conservative Union CPAC 2012 Conference titled "The Failure of Multiculturalism:  How the pursuit of diversity is weakening the American Identity"  The seminar featured Peter Brimelow, founder of, a site which promotes white supremacist views and anti-Semitism.   The seminar was sponsored by a charitable organization called ProEnglish.  Here is a link to their website.
ProEnglish The Nation's Leading English Language Advocates. 

And this note is posted at the bottom of their home page. 
ProEnglish has received a three-star rating for organizational efficiency from Charity Navigator. ProEnglish is a self-governing project of U.S., Inc., a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.  Federal ID number is 38-2418377.  

OK, I am no tax law expert.  But I find it odd that a political advocacy group like ProEnglish can operate under any sort of tax exempt status. The taxpayers are giving them a subsidy under the guise of a charitable organization and they run around sponsoring right wing conferences with white supremacists?  Just for reference there are rules posted at the IRS site for charitable organizations who dabble in politics..
IRS: Exemption Requirements - Section 501(c)(3) Organizations

To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates. (emphasis added)

Then there is the IRS page that explains the restrictions on  Lobbying in more detail

In general, no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying). A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.
Legislation includes action by Congress, any state legislature, any local council, or similar governing body, with respect to acts, bills, resolutions, or similar items (such as legislative confirmation of  appointive office), or by the public in referendum, ballot initiative, constitutional amendment, or similar procedure. It does not include actions by executive, judicial, or administrative bodies.
An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation.
Going back to the ProEnglish site, they do ALL of the stuff that 501(c)(3) organizations are NOT supposed to do.  It's not like they are secretive about it.  Here is their mission statement..

ProEnglish is the nation's leading advocate of official English. We work through the courts and in the court of public opinion to defend English's historic role as America's common, unifying language, and to persuade lawmakers to adopt English as the official language at all levels of government.
  • Adopting laws or constitutional amendments declaring English the official language of the United States, and of individual states.
  • Defending the right of individual states to make English the official language of government operations
  • Ending bilingual education (e.g. foreign language immersion) programs in public schools
  • Repealing federal mandates for the translation of government documents and voting ballots into languages other than English.
  • Opposing the admission of territories as states unless they have adopted English as their official language.
And here is all important Question 15 from the FAQ's..

15. Is my donation tax deductible?

Answer - Yes, all contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. ProEnglish is classified by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.
Well I think I just found out a way to help chip away at our trillion dollar budget deficit.  Go through the list of 501(c)(3) charitable organizations like ProEnglish and eliminate the tax-exempt status for cheating on the rules.  Imagine that.  Budget hawk right wingers who love to point out all the forms of government waste and they are conniving money from the taxpayers to do it.

update: Here is a copy of their 21 page 2010 Form 990 for the IRS. Form 990  for U.S. Inc from Petoskey Michigan


  1. See also section 0.4 of fakery, as there are a number of things tjhat can cause trouble for 501(c)(3).
    The main funder of ProEnglish is F.M Kirby Foundation (NJ), 2003-2011.
    Scaife Family(FL) gave 2003, 2004, 2007, and Siney Swensrud gave less, 2006-2009.

    Scaife Family diverged from Richard Mellon Scaife (OA) a while back and rarely funds the same things.

    Kirby has funded many groups, including both normal charities and advocacy groups.

  2. Thanks for stopping by John. So wondering here, If the organization is found to be in violation of the rules for the tax-exempt status, who is culpable for the loss in tax revenue.. The gullible donor or the cheating organization? I'd guess both.

  3. Certainly, the donor loses the charitable contribution break.
    If 501(c)(3) status is revoked, then the charity is likely liable for back taxes.

    Of course, some patterns of abuse could well cross the line into areas governments might consider fraud, presumably, mostly for the charity. I think most such are frauds of fake charity versus donors. I'm not sure what happens if donors and charity conspire to do naughty things, perhaps like Heartland and A.D. agreeing on Angry Badgers. That might get Bad.