(This is an expanded version of the original article on Focus on the Family tax irregularities, as presented on Talk to Action
. Several major additions have been made to the DailyKos version.)
As I touched upon in my first post, Focus on the Family and tax hanky-panky?, there are some decided irregularities in how Focus on the Family--the largest dominionist group in the US which is run by James Dobson who is associated with promotion of "Bible-based child abuse"--manages their tax-exempt status.
In this expanded version of the original article, I will detail these irregularities in full, including examples of violations of rules against lobbying. Again, commentary from experts in nonprofit tax law is appreciated.
For those who aren't aware, Focus on the Family
is presently the largest promoter of dominionism in the US. James Dobson in particular is probably one of the two most influential of the "Second Generation" of dominionists in the US (the other major influential person being the American Family Association's Donald Wildmon; we're starting to see a "third generation" of dominionists including Ted Haggard of New Life Church in Colorado Springs).
Much of James Dobson's media empire is in fact based on his large network of radio programming and especially his books, particularly his books on "tough love" of kids (many of which cross over the line into frank promotion of religiously motivated child abuse).
Focus on the Family has also been a major force in getting dominionist legislation passed--partly through Dobson's media empire and partly through working with other dominionist groups to get legislation passed. Focus on the Family also itself has a history of getting itself in legal trouble for this--as a nonprofit organisation, it has had to split a 501(c)4 organisation off twice due to IRS investigations. (The first time resulted in the creation of the Family Research Council, now an independent dominionist group; the other is Focus on the Family Action, created only last year and which is (as we'll note) pretty much a shell organisation of FotF itself.)
One of the more common scapegoats that Focus on the Family has used as a rallying point for dominionists is the explicit demonisation of LGBT people, and activity that is legally iffy at best for a 501(c)3 nonprofit is all too common. Street Prophets details what went on recently at one Focus on the Family pow-wow:
Standing before an enormous American flag in Mellon Arena, conservative evangelical activist James Dobson told thousands of supporters he was deeply disappointed in the nation's Republican leadership, but that the nation's future depended on re-electing them.
"I have flat-out been ticked at Republicans for the past two years," he said, to some applause from a crowd that arena security estimated at around 3,000.
However, he said, "This country is at a crisis point. Whether or not the Republicans deserve the power they were given, the alternatives are downright frightening."
. . .
"We are at war in this country with an enemy who wants to destroy us," he said. He stressed that only a small minority of Muslims believe that their faith justifies violence, "but let's say 4 percent of Muslims want to kill us ... . That's 48 million people who want to bring us to our knees."
He compared those who want to negotiate their way out of crises in the Middle East to Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who sought to appease Adolph Hitler prior to World War II.
article that Street Prophets sources is more explicit in how Dobson regularly pushes--and often steps over--the likely legal bounds of what is permissible:
Dr. Dobson, who has built an enormous following in three decades as a Christian radio psychologist, is renowned for his ability to turn out the conservative "values voters" who tipped the last election.
Although tax law forbids Dr. Dobson's Focus On The Family Action, the nonprofit organization that sponsored the rally, to endorse candidates, organizers said that last night's Stand for the Family Rally was held in Pennsylvania because of its high-profile U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Rick Santorum and Democratic challenger Bob Casey. Issue guides being distributed last night clearly favored Mr. Santorum. So Dr. Dobson's warning shot across the bow of the Republican Party was unexpected.
(According to information from the IRS and other sources, technically tax-exempts aren't supposed to endorse specific candidates
By no means are these isolated incidents, as we'll note later. It's enough, in fact, that the IRS is again considering investigation of Focus on the Family if it gets out of line.
Which brings us to our original investigation of Focus on the Family. I had found some very interesting info in researching Focus on the Family's status as a charity (in relation to a Dark Christianity thread on how FotF hasn't shipped promotional material to people (they had allowed persons to literally order FotF materials for free, or for "donations" of a token amount ranging from one cent on up; speculation on the sister post to this one indicates they may have specifically set things up as "donations" rather than "sales" for tax advantages); one of the queries I had was if this could potentially trigger investigations of FotF's "charity" status by state Attorneys-General).
What I found was, to put it mildly, very interesting indeed. There are some rather substantial irregularities in FotF's tax exempt status and some definite hanky-panky going on with how they are soliciting collections in the first place.
One of the first interesting things I knew about--and began researching on--was the fact that in 35 states charities must specifically register with the state Attorney-General; generally the only exemptions that are given are for church groups (similar to how churches do not technically have to file form 990s).
The first oddity I found was that Focus on the Family apparently has no record of being a registered charity in Kentucky (a state that requires charity registration and bonding, and is quite aggressive on enforcing it). There is a link to Focus on the Family Action (which is the 501(c)4 lobbying wing of FotF; in an almost identical repeat to the story of the beginnings of the Family Research Council, FotF has had to split a lobbying front off to avoid problems with its tax exempt status). Generally this is only the case for groups registered as churches or for groups that are illegally soliciting in Kentucky, which led me to some further research.
FotF's home state of Colorado also requires registration--and, notably, is one of the few states requiring registration that does not use a unified form accepted in 35 states (partly because Colorado is becoming more aggressive in dealing with charity fraud, though not on the level of KY or NY). Colorado, of note, publishes its reports in a large PDF; pages 215 and 374 of this PDF give the following interesting info:
FOCUS ON THE FAMILY Reg. No. 20023004136
$136,611,180.00 (Total Revenue)
$132,976,714.00 (Total Expenses)
$109,770,728.00 (Program Expenses)
$11,217,564.00 (Fundraising Expenses)
$11,988,422.00 (Administration Management and General)
FOCUS ON THE FAMILY ACTION, INC. Reg. No. 20043006430
$13,395,512.00 (Total Revenue)
$9,069,558.00 (Total Expenses)
$6,939,028.00 (Program Expenses)
$1,029,563.00 (Fundraising Expenses)
$1,100,967.00 (Administration Management and General)
(Pay attention to those "Program Expenses"; those will become important later.)
OK, so far, their home state of Colorado is the only state I've found where FotF's registration records seem to be remotely on the level (as far as registering with the state Attorney-General's office).
Doing some further research, I did some checking in regards to FotF's status as a charity in New York State. Why New York? New York has one of the most aggressive Attorney-Generals in the country investigating charity fraud, Elliot Spitzer; it's been in large part through some of his own investigations that affinity fraud schemes (pyramid schemes that specifically target specific groups) have been busted that in large part involved the dominionist community.
New York also has similar laws, though even more restrictive in some ways, than Kentucky; among other things, its only exemptions include churches and some charities that also act as charitable trusts have to "double-register", and groups that claim to be exempt from registration have to file a separate form to that effect.. (The laws will likely be tightening even further soon.)
I found similar hanky-panky, in fact more blatantly, in New York than in Kentucky--both FotF and FotF Action registered with the state of New York as organisations exempt from filing a charity solicitation form--neither group is really eligible, especially not FotF Action (which is a 501(c)4 and not even tax deductible!). Even more bizzarely, the EINs (the "tax registration" numbers that all businesses, both taxable and nontaxable, use to file with the IRS) are completely ommitted. (FotF's is, incidentially, 95-3188150. Other charities that were exempt had theirs listed, which is suspicious in and of itself.)
NY's charity lookup site also has a link to ERI's lookup tool for nonprofits (It is an amazingly good tool for this--among other things, I've found records on the specific tax-exempt status for the dominionist church I walked away from and their foundation, which I've been unable to find using other tools for searching tax-exempt groups.).FotF's records are here, including their latest form 990 which contains some very damning information indeed--especially in light of lobbying and blatant electioneering that Focus on the Family does.
Among other things, the 990 online (which includes the appendices, which has most of the good info) has info on their direct mailing and "donor communications" firm, and shows over 126 million dollars is from direct solicitations. It shows they are NOT registering as an educational group (the entire section is blank).
The parts that could REALLY get Focus on the Family in trouble with the IRS are deeper in the document. Among other things, their form 990 does explicitly list FotF action as essentially a 501(c)4 front. Their form 990 states clearly, in response to the question 52(a) "Is the organization directly or indirectly affiliated with, or related to, one or more tax-exempt organizations described in section 501(c) of the Code (other than section 501(c)(3)) or in section 527?" the following:
a) Name of organization: Focus on the Family Action, Inc.
b) Type of organisation: 501(c)(4)
c) Description of relationship: Common control entity--same officers and directors.
(Available in original PDF on page 12 of 59-page form)
This would probably be less of an issue were it not for the OTHER info listed in their form 990--which, as further exploration of the form shows--makes their status quite non-compatible with the specific subsection of the 501(c)3 tax-exemptions they're filing under.
One of the things that began raising warning flags with me is that on EIN's site they list themselves as a "historical society" (one of the exemptions for a 501(c)3 and one of the few non-church-related exemptions most states have for registering as a charity soliciting funds). This is, presumably, to throw off Attorneys-General investigating. To find the real meat of the matter, we have to go to the numerous appendices of statements attached to their form 990--and it is this that has the real potential of getting FotF in Serious Legal Trouble if ever followed up on. (In fact, most of what could be used to hang FotF on their own petard is in fact contained in the thirty-plus pages of appendices.)
Damningly--and this should be brought to the attention of the IRS and state Attorneys-General, IMHO--FotF's form 990 also notes quite explicitly they're registering as a religious group (which technically should not be having lobbying groups associated with it at all!) and is likely how they're pulling hanky-panky with state registries.
In Statement 4, Part III (Statement of Organization's Primary Exempt Purpose) it rather explicitly defines itself as a church to use the "church exemption":
Focus on the Family (FOF) is a nondenominational religious organization whose primary objective is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ/ by helping to preserve traditional values and the institution of the family. The primary means of accomplishing these goals are radio broadcasts, periodicals, fimls, videos, internet and events which share the message with constituents, schools, churches and the public at large in the United States as well as around the world.
(Page 17 of 59 in original. Emphasis mine.)
Right here, there's a bit of a problem. Technically, churches should not even have lobbying wings (and make no mistake, they are specifically using the religious exemption argument). This is in part because of the rather severe restrictions on federal lobbying activity; whilst churches can talk about issues broadly, they can't endorse specific bills or candidates. (Focus on the Family frequently steps over the line with both.)
To give you an example of just how seriously the IRS is treating electioneering violations, All Saints Church in Pasadena, CA is being investigated due to a sermon titled "If Jesus Debated Senator Kerry and President Bush" that did not explicitly state whom to vote for but which merely stated that Bush's policies in the Iraq war had been a "disaster" and which encouraged people to "follow the heart of Jesus" in the vote. As a result of this sermon alone, All Saints has been ordered to turn over their church records (they are presently appealing).
This doesn't deter FotF--they even admit that some of their "religious" products are pretty much used for electioneerong (and far more extreme than what All Saints did, at that). Their description of "Program Service 2" (on page 18) goes into more detail:
DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM SERVICE TWO
Resources--Focus on the Family produces and/or distributes a number of films, video products, audio products and books that are used to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ by helping to preserve traditional values and the institution of the family. These products discuss many issues that affect the family and are geared to serve many age groups.
Approximately $29,905,484 went into this in 2005.
Amazingly, their form goes into more explicit detail on its use of its publications as a form of lobbying and electioneering. Program Service 3 (on page 19) is as follows:
DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM SERVICE THREE
Publications--Focus on the Family distributes monthly and bi-monthly 11 magazines and newsletters. For example, Family News from Dr. James Dobson. This publication, which consists of personal thoughts from Dr. Dobson on a variety of timely and cultural topics, goes out to as many as 1.1 million US homes and approximately 97,000 Canadian homes.
Those "personal thoughts" all too often tend to be in the form of blatantly calling for things like passage of amendments banning same-sex domestic partnerships, sometimes even giving instructions to call Congresscritters on the matter. (There'll be a particularly blatant example I'll note below.)
Approximately $16,800,690 went into this in 2005.
"Program Service 4" is the really damning one, IMHO. It lists quite explicitly that the group--which I'll remind folks, was specifically registered as a 501(c)3 org as, and which was incorporated as a religious organisation(more below on that)--considers illegal lobbying and electioneering activities as part of its religious program services:
DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM SERVICE FOUR
Public policy--For many years, Focus on the Family (FOF) has played an important role in educating the Christian community on public policy and legislative matters that are critical in the battle to preserve the Judeo-Christian foundation that is vital to building strong families in this great nation and developing a culture that is friendly to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. During fiscal year end September 30, 2005, this effort was increased to create a positive impact on the definition of marriage (only between one man and one woman), the sanctity of human life in all its forms, and the need to deal with judicial tyranny. During this year, FOF communicated important information by mail to as many as 1.1 million households on critical public policy issues. FOF addressed, via email, over 120,000 households daily-weekly concerning up-to-the-minute policy matters through "Citizenlink". Also, Citizen Magazine, which circulates to approximately 65,000 households, provided in-depth stories and analysis on pressing policy concerns. FOF's Issues Response Group provides research and analysis necessary to properly educate the Christian community and react to new and emerging issues that face our nation. Smaller groups within FOF's Public Policy Department, such as "Love Won Out" which communicates God's redemptive grace and the truth about homosexuality and its impact on our society, minister to very specific needs.
(Pages 20-21 in original. Emphasis mine.)
And make no mistake, "Citizen Magazine" and "CitizenLink" are a lot of where Focus on the Family crosses the line. Talk to Action (via Evangelical Right, via DefCon America) notes the following following bit of explicit electioneering for the Republicans and Bush from the pages of "Citizen Magazine":
9-11 was terrible for America. But it's been devastating for liberals... For all its tragedy, at least one good thing came out of 9-11. It exposed the Left's incapacity to deal with evil.... Why won't the Left label and confront evil?
The reasons are not only psychological (fear of confrontation, fear of fighting, fear of dying, loathing of authority figures whether parental or divine, etc.)...
All this leftist aversion to talk about evil has come to the fore since 9-11. In that sense, 9-11 was a catastrophe for the Left. It told most Americans exactly what the Left does not want Americans to believe: that there is major evil in the world which only America can truly fight; that America is not the Great Problem and, even worse, that the Great Problem regards America as its primary enemy; that sometimes only moral violence can end immoral violence; that people do terrible things for reasons having nothing to do with economics; that the U.N. is morally worthless; that America really is exceptional, and that there really is such as a thing as evil and those who fight it are better than those who fight the fighters.
9-11 was terrible for America. But it has thus far been devastating for the Left. That is one reason the Left so hates George W. Bush; and why, in their hearts, they have to hope he--and therefore we--lose in Iraq.
Another interesting bit in "Citizen Magazine" explicitly pushes people to contact Congresscritters in support of bills
Amanda Banks, federal policy analyst for Focus on the Family Action, highlighted the Child Custody Protection Act, which was passed by both chambers last session, but has been prevented by the Democratic leadership from going to a conference committee to work out differences between the House and Senate versions.
. . .
Please contact both the Republican and Democratic Senate leaders and ask them to move the Child Custody Protection Act to the President so that it becomes law.
Majority Leader Bill Frist: (202) 224-3135
Minority Leader Harry Reid: (202) 224-5556
(Interestingly, in the original it claims the note was paid for by FotF Action--the lobbying wing of Focus on the Family, as noted above. Technically 501(c)3 groups should not be promoting this sort of stuff.
(Also, the Child Custody Protection Act is an ingeniously misnamed law that would make it a literal felony for anyone--even relatives--to transport someone under the age of 18 to another state for purposes of obtaining an abortion. In states with ornerous procedures for parental notification and judicial bypass, or in states with limited or no abortion providers (like Mississippi, which has but one provider in the state, or North Dakota which recently outlawed the procedure altogether), it may be necessary for a kid to go out-of-state--especially if she has dominionist parents who may subject her to abuse as a result of becoming pregnant.)
Another example of illegal electioneering in "Citizen Magazine" is here:
If you live in Michigan, ask your state senator to support the five bills that comprise the Coercive Abortion Prevention Act. You can find contact information in the CitizenLink Action Center.
If you are a CitizenLink Daily Update subscriber, click on the blue "Take Action" button in the e-mail to be automatically logged in to our Action Center. Then look under "Current Issues" for "Support the Coercive Abortion Prevention Act." Otherwise, click on this link.
The link goes to CitizenLink, which is also quite the promoter of illegal electioneering (we'll touch on the examples from them in just a sec).
And there's more--"Citizen Magazine" exhorts readers to vote for "marriage amendments" that would ban domestic partnerships, and--astoundingly--admits plans to do an illegal electioneering campaign in eight states centered in churches:
Randy Wilson, a pastor at Mountain Springs Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., considers it one of his duties to equip church members to make their voices heard.
"We are going to have a voter-registration drive the middle of this month," he told Family News in Focus. "If we stay informed, we can better keep our leaders in line and in tune with what we feel is best for our country."
Churches like Wilson's will play a significant role in getting eight states, including Colorado, to pass marriage-protection amendments this fall. Kelly Shackelford, chief counsel for the Liberty Legal Institute, said when it comes to involvement, there are a couple of things churches need to keep in mind.
"It can't endorse or oppose one candidate over another, and it can't lend resources or money of the church to support one candidate over another," he explained. "And I see very few churches who want to do either of those two things."
But educating congregations about issues, handing out voter guides and encouraging people to vote are perfectly legal.
(What they are stating is not 100 percent correct--churches can
do voter drives and such, but they CANNOT distribute partisan voter's guides, only nonpartisan ones. Churches have had their tax-exempt status threatened in past for passing out Christian Coalition voter's guides, and--as we've seen above and we'll see below--the material from Focus on the Family is very, very partisan indeed.)
One respondent to the sister thread had mentioned a possible bit of wiggle-room FotF could claim, but also specifically mentioned that giving specific names of bills, candidates or bill numbers tends to be looked at as a major no-no. As it is, Focus on the Family happens to do just that--cross over the line, repeatedly.
Focus on the Family's "CitizenLink" is a particularly egregrious offender in this regard, and seems to be a major part (along with "Citizen Magazine") of where they cross the line to potentially illegal activity.
The first of many examples I was able to find was with a call to ban human cloning in which specific bill numbers are mentioned:
Members of Congress and state legislators are often asked to tackle significant - and sometimes confusing - moral issues involving biotechnologies. In April 2005, U.S. Senator Sam Brownback introduced a total cloning ban in the U.S. Senate (S. 658). Likewise, Representative Dave Weldon introduced a parallel bill in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 1357). Advocates of human cloning are opposed to the Brownback/Weldon bills and instead are pushing "partial" cloning bans.
This is a relatively soft-sell; there's more blatant examples. Another post which virulently demonises LGBT individuals
exhorts people to sign a petition drive operated by the American Family Association (another dominionist group, and a particularly anti-LGBT one at that) for passage of a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships:
Ultimately and inevitably, the future and the health of humanity rests upon the health and future of marriage.
To see how same-sex marriage is harmful to children click here.
To sign an electronic petition in support of the Federal Marriage Amendment, click here and you will be taken to the American Family Association's NoGayMarriage.com Web site.
It doesn't stop there. CitizenLink explicitly exhorts its California members to contact congresscritters to oppose bills, including giving specific names
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed anti-family SB 1437, a major piece of legislation that was designed to promote and enforce the homosexual agenda in California schools. Pro-family leaders are thankful for the win, but they are encouraging people to keep contacting the governor concerning two other bills.
* AB 606 would require schools to adopt a state-mandated anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy, particularly focusing on sexual orientation and gender identity. It would also give the state Superintendent of Public Instruction broad authority to remove state funding from school districts deemed to be doing to little to combat discrimination.
* AB 1056 would allocate $250,000 to establish a pilot program in some schools that would redefine the concept of "tolerance," urging school children to not just passively allow, but actively convey respect toward homosexuality and similar behavior.
Tom Minnery, senior vice president of government and public policy at Focus on the Family Action, thanked the people of California for taking action on SB 1437, but added that Schwarzenegger needs to hear from them again.
"We now ask those same men and women to keep telling the governor to do what's right for their state," he said, "by vetoing these two bills when they reach his desk."
NOTE: You must have a California home address listed in your profile in order to take action on this issue. If you have not already entered your address in your user profile, please click here to modify your account. After submitting your address, you may return to this page to take action.
CitizenLink also exhorts people to contact congresscritters in support of a bill that would effectively strip the rights of persons suing in First Amendment cases to recover legal fees
--which are often quite considerable, and would effectively shut down a lot of challenges to pro-dominionist acts:
Public Expressions of Religion Protection Act - S. 3696
The Veterans' Memorials, Boy Scouts, Public Seals, and Other Public Expressions of Religion Protection Act of 2006 would prevent groups such as the ACLU from collecting attorneys' fees in cases involving religious expression. Ask your senators to co-sponsor and support this bill.
Another example exhorts people to contact congresscritters to pass a specific bill that would ban credit card companies from processing transactions related to online gambling
Support the Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act -- HR 4411
The Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act, H.R. 4411, sponsored by Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Jim Leach, R-Iowa, would cut off credit-card payments to illegal Internet-gambling sites -- most of which are offshore -- and give the Justice Department increased ability to prosecute illegal wagering.
The House passed it July 11 on a 317-93 vote. It's now in the Senate.
Chad Hills, analyst for gambling research and policy for Focus on the Family Action, called it a "fantastic development."
. . .
"It just goes to show that this piece of legislation has broad support, not just (among) pro-family groups, but also among major-league professional sports," Brian Newell, government affairs assistant with the Family Research Council, told Family News in Focus.
Hills said it's important that supporters speak up.
"I encourage people to contact their senators to get behind this legislation," Hills said. "We need to do something about online gambling, and this bill will be a major step forward."
(This one is particularly interesting--it appears that "Family News in Focus", listed in program service III, is also
being used to promote specific bills. Focus on the Family also promotes info on how to set up an astroturfing campaign
to target specific bills and congresscritters.)
A surprising amount of FotF's lobbying efforts are focused on shutting down legal gaming (ironic, considering the links between dominionist groups and the Abramoff scandal, which in part involves Indian gaming casinos). One link alone lists a number of campaigns; several of these cross the line, including this exhortation to contact congressmen in regards to multiple bills:
Take Action Now
McCain's bill is stalled, Pombo's bill failed ... What can we do as citizens? Is there any proposed legislation remaining that addresses Indian gambling expansion? Yes.
Take Action #1
Support Mike Rogers' (R-MI) bill, H.R. 4677, which would require a two-year moratorium before any new tribal casinos can be built. On February 2, 2006, the House sent Rogers' bill to the Department of Interior (DOI) requesting executive comment from the Secretary of the Interior, Dirk Kempthorne. Contact Mr. Kempthorne today and ask him to end this delay by submitting his comments on Rogers' bill, H.R. 4677.
Secretary of the Department of the Interior
Call 202-208-3100 or e-mail: email@example.com
Find your federal lawmakers and contact them today.
Take Action #2
Encourage members of Congress to remain accountable for their actions by passing a clean Lobbying Transparency and Accountability Act of 2006 (the Senate passed S 2349 on March 29, 2006, the House passed its bill HR 4975 on May 3, 2006).
Citizens should know how much money the commercial gambling industry and tribal gambling interests are spending to influence the leaders we elect into office. Both the House and Senate have sidelined this legislation throughout the summer. It's time to call Congress onto the floor and demand fiscal accountability and transparency. OMB Watch posted an informative article that offers more background on this issue. Read the OMB Watch article, "Earmark My Word: Boehner Promises House Action This Week," OMB Watch online, 12 September 2006.
Find your federal lawmakers and contact them today.
Be sure you call and pay special attention to the Senators on the Indian Affairs Committee, listed below:
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
John McCain (R-AZ) - (202) 224-2235 - Fax: (202) 228-2862
Pete Domenici (R-NM) - (202) 224-6621 - Fax: (202) 228- 3261
Craig Thomas (R-WY) - (202) 224-6441 - Fax: (2020 224-1724
Gordon Smith (R-OR) - (202) 224-3753 - Fax: (202) 228-3997
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) - (202) 224-6665 - Fax: (202) 224-5301
Michael Crapo (R-ID) - (202) 224-6142 - Fax: (202) 228-1375
Richard Burr (R-NC) - (202) 224-3154 - Fax: (202) 228-2981
Tom Coburn (R-OK) - (202) 224-5754 - Fax: (202) 224-6008
Byron Dorgan (D-ND) - (202) 224- 2552 - Fax: (202) 224-1193
Daniel Inouye (D-HI) - (202) 224-3934 - Fax: (808) 541-2549
Kent Conrad (D-ND) - (202) 224-2043 - Fax: (2020 224-7776
Daniel Akaka (D-HI) - (202) 224-6363 - Fax: (202) 224-2126
Tim Johnson (D-SD) - (202) 224-5842 - Fax: (202) 228-5765
Maria Cantwell (D-WA) - (202) 224-3441 - Fax: (2020 228-0514
There is also yet more explicit electioneering including exhortations to contact congresscritters re a specific bill banning Internet gaming
Pick up your phone, click your mouse and contact your Congressional House Representatives. Urge them to support the Internet gambling bill in the autumn session.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Senator Bill Frist, MD, held true to his word and brought Internet gambling before the Senate for an autumn session vote.
Unfortunately, after a series of closed-door meetings in D.C., the combined Goodlatte-Leach Internet Gambling bill (HR 4411) had the Goodlatte text stripped in the Senate's amended version of the bill.
Rep. Goodlatte's text required two basic things:
1) The Federal Wire Act was to be updated to include prohibition of gambling using wireless forms of communication.
2) The Department of Justice was given authority to prosecute illegal Internet gambling.
. . .
Focus on the family still supports the Senate's current version of the bill (Leach's original bill, without Goodlatte's language), but we know the bill is significantly weakened without Goodlatte's text included.
. . .
Contact Key Congressmen Today!
Contact Speaker of the House, Rep. Dennis Hastert, today. Encourage him to allow the passage of the Internet gambling legislation. Keeping Goodlatte's language in the bill is preferred, but if only Leach's language is included, it will also serve to stunt the epidemic of Internet gambling sweeping across our nation.
Rep. J. Dennis Hastert
Be sure to contact Senator Frist and encourage him to keep Internet Gambling (H.R. 4411) on the Senate's autumn agenda and bring it to the floor for a vote.
Call: (202) 224-3344
Fax: (202) 228-1264
E-mail: Click here.
Thanks For Calling Your House Representatives About The Internet Gambling Bill (H.R. 4411). They Listened! Now We Need The Senate's Ear ...
House Vote Passes Ban On Internet Gambling: 317-93
On Tuesday, July 11, 2006, the U.S. House voted to pass the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (H.R. 4411). This is great news, after weeks of discussion and deliberation concerning the details of this bill, which represents the Goodlatte bill (H.R. 4777) and Leach bill (H.R. 4411) merged into one bill (kept the H.R. 4411 bill number).
Reps. Shelly Berkley (D-NV), John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), and Robert Wexler (D-FL) proposed an amendment that would have infringed on states' rights to control gambling laws within their own borders. Ultimately, this amendment would have "poisoned" H.R. 4411 and would have most likely killed the bill. Fortunately, the amendment vote failed (114-297) mostly along party lines.
(The text is much longer and is filled with this sort of stuff)
Another example specifically targets an Arkansas bill that would rescind the state's recent permission to allow slots in parimutuel betting facilities, including specific names of the bill and referring people to the state affiliate:
Take Action Today
A large number of citizens believe Act 1151 (SB 999) violates Arkansas' Constitution. Support a repeal of SB 999 (Act 1151).
Call the Arkansas Family Council at 501-375-7000 for more information about the lawsuit and learn how you can get involved. The Family Council Action Committee, an Arkansas group associated with Focus on the Family national organization, has a lawsuit in state court in Garland County and another in Crittenden seeking to overturn state Act 1151, arguing that it is not allowed by the state constitution. Voters turned down casinos in statewide elections in 1996 and 2000.
Arkansas racetracks should not be turned into casinos, nor should the declining racing industry be subsidized through the exploitation of Arkansas citizens and families. If Act 1151 is not overturned or repealed, racetracks will have full-blown gambling and Indian casinos will be allowed to conduct Las Vegas-style gambling in Arkansas.
State News: Judge tosses Hot Springs suit over expanded gambling (Tuesday, May 2, 2006)
Points to make:
1. We oppose the exploitation and abuse of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act through the practice of reservation shopping.
2. We oppose out-of-state Indian tribes opening casinos in Arkansas.
3. We believe Arkansas citizens should have a say and a vote on any casino.
4. Support the Common Sense Indian Gambling Reform Act, HR 2353, in the House Committee on Resources.
Call, E-mail Or Fax Governor Huckabee
concerning the Oklahoma tribe wanting to "reservation shop" and build a casino in Arkansas.
Find your Congressional Representatives
Senator Blanche Lambert Lincoln (D- AR)
202-224-4843; Fax: 202-228-1371
Senator Mark Pryor (D- AR)
202-224-2353; Fax: 202-228-0908
Representative Marion Berry (D - 01)
Representative Vic Snyder (D - 02)
202-225-2506; Fax: 202-225-5903
Representative John Boozman (R - 03)
202-225-4301; Fax: 202-225-5713
Representative Michael A. Ross (D - 04)
202-225-3772; Fax: 202-225-1314
Business Owners Act Now
Arkansas businessmen may want to contact Mr. Bennie Westphal and kindly remind him that casinos ultimately hurt the Arkansas business community (see casinos' impact on surrounding communities) and other research ).
Ozark Oil & Gas, Inc.
109 N 6th St
Fort Smith, AR 72901-2103
Fax (479) 783-1158
Contact Friends of Fort Smith, a group of local citizens who oppose gambling in the city of Fort Smith.
Friends of Fort Smith
P.O. Box 2762
Fort Smith, AR 72913
Contact Tribal Leaders
Citizens and families can contact the United Keetowah Band of Cherokee Indians and politely inform Chief Wickliffe and Assistant Chief Locust that Arkansas families are opposed to a tribal casino in Fort Smith.
The Keetowahs currently operate a casino in Tahlequah, Oklahoma (45 minutes from Fort Smith) with 700 slot machines and annual revenue of about $8 million. Plans for the Fort Smith casino include a large-scale casino and hotel, and they estimate 10-times more business ($80 million). Remind Chief George Wickliffe and Assistant Chief Charlie Locust that:
1. The end does not justify the means, especially with gambling money taken through deception, exploitation and addiction.
2. Exploiting millions of people for the financial gain of a few is a shameful act.
3. The promotion of gambling degrades the proud heritage of American Indians.
4. The practice of reservation shopping is jeopardizes the sovereignty of all tribes. United States citizens and non-gambling American Indian tribes both have reason for concern about the abuse of tribal sovereignty for the purposes of new land acquisition and gambling expansion.
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians
2450 South Muskogee Avenue
P.O. Box 746
Tahlequah, OK 74465-0746
Fax: (918) 456-9601
Similar measures are being made to explicitly electioneer for a bill that would rescind a law allowing slots in Pennsylvania
Your Help Is Needed Now!
The Casino Free PA group is coordinating a petition and collecting signatures in Pennsylvania communities to encourage the repeal of Act 71 (allowing 61,000 slots into Pennsylvania). The bill to repeal Act 71 has already been written and is recorded as HB 2298. Signatures are being collected in an effort to petition the Pennsylvania legislature to consider HB 2298 to repeal the slots bill.
Call Diane Berlin with Casino Free PA at 717-575-2771, or e-mail Casino Free PA at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
. . .
Take Action Now:
Take three quick actions to preserve Pennsylvania families.
1. URGENT, send a fax to your elected officials TODAY!
Residents need more time, money and information from their officials.
2. Write a letter of opposition to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
PA Gaming Control Board
PO Box 69060
Harrisburg, PA 17106-9060
E-mail: PA Gaming Control Board
3. Fax or e-mail your legislators and U.S. Congressmen.
Urge the passage of the Slot Machine Repeal Bill, HB 2298 and tell your legislators why you do not want a casino in your community (see Facts and More Information below).
(Again, they refer to a state affiliate for further info)
Lest CitizenLink's regular activity not convince one, Focus on the Family also sells a guide on how to pimp for "Defense of Marriage Act"-style bills including kits to organise one's own electioneering.
If this isn't a violation of 501(c)3 status, I don't know what the hell is. (Needless to say, this is also considerably more blatant than what All Saints is being investigated for!) The thing that gets me is that Focus on the Family actually had the cojones to admit to illegal lobbying in their IRS tax-exemption form! (One which they claimed $9,323,092 was spent for in 2005.)
The "Other expenses" section is pretty interesting too; it notes around $27,996,974 spent in 2005 for "Various other ministry efforts (such as Physicians Resource Counsel, FOF Institute, Crisis pregnancy centers, Heritage Builders, Ethnic Ministries, and Focus Over Fifty).
The last one is a new one to me, though it shouldn't surprise me--I was not aware that FotF ran essentially a dominionist "parallel economy" version of AARP. (Yes, they essentially run a dominionist AARP alternative--complete with claims one should not support AARP because "they support homosexuals" in a remarkably similar manner to how dominionist groups have dead-agented the March of Dimes because the latter won't issue a blanket condemnation of abortion.) It is revealing that they're a major funder of the dominionist "parallel economy" in general--including coercive "de-gaying" therapy, as well as deceptive "Crisis pregnancy centers" that set up shop next to legitimate women's clinics in an interesting form of bait-and-switch.
One of the non-gift-related sources of funding--and a non-negligible one--is a listing of "corporate notes" as a source of income to the tune of $11,077,693; they also receive $19,930,040 in total from various investments, including one for "Commercial paper" and several gift annuity security funds.
Some of their justifications for other forms of income are interesting, of note:
Section 93(a) (revenue gained from royalties and licensing,$23,346,753): "Royalties and licensing from film and books designed to strengthen and preserve traditional values of the family." (AKA kickbacks they get from publishers, etc. for Dobson's books and movies.)
Section 93(b) (revenue from events, $575.432): "Events strengthen and educate our constituents and the public to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ through the witness of their lives" (And also frequently involve illegal electioneering, like what the Post-Gazette reported on.)
Section 93(c) (revenue from FOF Institute, $1,729,023): "FOF Institute exists to provide a unique Christian educational community that nurtures passionate and persuasive leaders who are committed to Jesus Christ, equipping them to promote healthy families, vibrant churches and a civil society (juniors and seniors in college)." (In fact, FOF Institute explicitly trains college-age students to be, among other things, dominionist politicians--another excellent example of illegal electioneering and political activity, based on their specific exemption status.)
Section 93(d) (revenue from "Dr. Dobson Solid Answers", $103,916): "'Dr. Dobson's Solid Answers' is a newspaper column that generates sponsorship income that is directly related to the organization's exempt purpose. Sponsors of this column are given acknowledgement and no advertising is provided. Therefore, income is exempt from business income." (In other words, a very slick scheme to get syndication fees without paying taxes on them. It would be interesting to know a list of the sponsors for this column. If your newspaper carries this column, feel free to respond.)
Section 102 (gross profit from sales of inventory, $1,856,608): "Gross profit from the sale of inventory products consisting of books, tapes and clothing promoting and strengthening the family." (This is not quite on the spot. FotF sends material (including not only Dobson's guides on how to biblically beat your two-year-old, but also things like the Narnia movie) for a "donation"; their website, until recently, did not have a minimum donation to give, so people could theoretically get goods sent to them for a donation of $0.00 or $0.01. FotF has attempted to renege on orders for people who successfully placed orders for material with these minimum donations.; they are also presumably doing this as "donations" rather than as "sales" in order to take advantage of tax benefits.)
Section 103(a) (FOFA reimbursement, $3,967,185): "Represents the amount of reimbursements at fair market value for the use of facilities, equipment, and media channels from Focus on the Family Action, Inc., a related entity having the same board of directors and officers as Focus on the Family." (More fun with shellgames between the left hand and the right hand. Technically, FOFA should not even be allowed to legally exist as a related group (due to the church-related exemption of FotF), and was split off as a lobbying arm specifically to avoid an IRS investigation; they still funnel money between each other. As shown above, too, FOF Action pretty much exclusively uses Focus on the Family's publications to push partisan material--when Focus on the Family itself isn't doing so.)
Another really surprising one is a claim of nearly $525,000 in tax-exempt income from cafeteria sales. Altogether, this was a source of $12,345,025 in profits for FotF--including a nice cash injection of almost four million dollars from its 501(c)4 frontgroup. (This is a beautiful example of how dominionist groups essentially launder money from 501(c)4 affiliates to 501(c)3 parent groups, by the way.)
An interesting bit of note is a listing of board members--as it turns out, one of the architects of the hijacking of the Southern Baptist Seminary (Al Mohler) is on the board of directors of FotF. (Mohler is probably most infamous for the purging of the entire School of Social Work at the Southern Baptist Seminary after they refused to submit to a restrictive statement of faith which claimed that women have literally no place in the ministry aside from being wives to pastors. He also--in shades reminding one of Lucien Bouchard blaming the loss of Quebec's last vote for independence on Quebecois women not "having enough pure laine (French-speaking white) babies"--has pretty much stated it's a sin for women not to breed and that childless women are "sinners", claiming dominionists are not "replenishing themselves". He's also appointed such charming individuals as Russell Moore, dean of theology--who admits to raising his kids to be "blessedly violent".)
There is apparently at least one active-duty military member (Lt. General Patrick P. Caruana, M.S.) listed as a board member as well--very possibly one of the major players in the US AFA religious harassment scandal and almost certainly acting as a dominionist liason.
Another member is Bob Biehl, who is the president of "Masterplanning Group International" (listed as a "consultant" firm on the form, effectively a FotF frontgroup) who got kickbacks and pushes books on armageddonist and dominion theology.
Another, Anthony Wauterlek, is a known member of the Coalition for National Policy--one of two major "powwow" groups of dominionist leaders where policies are planned and coordinated among groups; he's also CEO of Wauterlek Investments, a major real estate/investment firm in Chicago.
Another, lesser known figure and board member (who is extremely interesting due to some of her connections) is Elsa Prince Broekhuizen--who happens to be the mother of Betsy DeVos, Dick DeVos' wife and a major member of the DeVos dominionist funding empire, and CEO of E.O.P. Management Company. (Dick DeVos is son of Richard DeVos, founder of Amway aka Quixtar aka Alticor--yes, the barely-legal pyramid scheme that is not only possibly one of the biggest corporate sponsors of dominionism (as documented beautifully in the online book Merchants of Deception) but is also so abusive as to be literally considered a bona fide cult by most exit counseling groups. Richard DeVos runs the DeVos Foundation which exclusively fund dominionist groups; Dick DeVos himself is also a dominionist and is going for a gubernatorial run in Michigan this year.) Betsy DeVos's brother Erik Prince is co-founder of the infamous Blackwater mercenary squad linked with human rights abuses in Iraq.
Another board member, Steve Largent, is a former Seattle Seahawk and dominionist US congressman who proposed several laws--including "parent's rights" bills that would severely restrict the rights of kids and which were even rejected by other conservatives as too restrictive--and who is CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (the largest cell-company lobbying group in the US) and has attempted gubernatorial runs in Oklahoma on a dominionist platform.
Another surprising listing is Ted Engstrom--who happens to be ex-CEO of the charity World Vision (and which has forced me to, for the second time, downgrade a well-known charity as being a dominionism supporter; World Vision is now listed along with the Salvation Army as being bad guys on the Big List of Good and Bad Charities (now mirrored on the DK Wiki) thanks to the CEO's connection with FotF; for those unfamiliar with the Big List, it's a ranking of charities based on their support of dominionism).
Another board member is Kathleen Nielson, who is apparently connected with the Presbyterian Church of America and promotes dominionist "wife should submit to the husband" claptrap; she has held college talks on the true purpose of women being as wives and breeders.
Another board member is Lee Eaton, who has links to both FotF and Family Research Council as well as being another confirmed CNP member; he also was national finance chair for Gary Bauer's Republican presidential nomination run in 2000 (Bauer lost the nomination to George W. Bush), and is president of Eaton Farms which seems to be a thoroughbred racing firm (of all things!) which has bred at least one Kentucky Derby winner. Eaton himself is based out of Florida but the farm is in Lexington. (This is especially ironic, considering a non-negligible part of Focus on the Family's lobbying activity has to do with fighting casino gambling; perhaps he just doesn't like the competition.)
In addition to these listings (courtesy of FotF's own financial report), there's Dobson himself as well as his wife--who, interestingly, runs the National Day of Prayer Taskforce as a FotF front:
Shirley M Dobson (director) served as an ex-officio member of another nonprofit organization, the National Prayer Committee (NPC), service as chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force (NDPTF), and separately as a board member of Focus on the Family (FOF). FOF in furthering its exempt purpose provided certain services (accounting, warehousing, shipping, etc.) to NPC. NPC paid to Focus $14,000 during the year to offset the cost to Focus in providing those certain services. NPC also utilized FOF staff to perform all functions. The actual cost of wages and benefits was reimbursed to FOF by NPC. Additionally, NPC reimburses FOF for certain direct expenses incurred on NPC's behalf, and NPC utilized office space in FOF's facilities at no cost. NPC made a donation to FOF of $150,000 during FYE 9-30-05.
(Page 26 of original. Emphasis mine)
It's a very interesting look indeed at the sort of shell games that dominionist groups play with their finances to keep the taxman at bay--and keep multiple heads springing up a la whack-a-mole.
Interestingly, a later description of Focus On The Family Action reveals they could be in tax trouble too--they were organised as a 501(c)4 religious social welfare group, and are ALSO legally prohibited from lobbying and electioneering due specifically to the religious exemption used. (They can lobby on specific issues, but not in the manner they're doing where specific candidates and such are mentioned; the religious exemption for 501(c)4 groups is meant for such things as children's homes and the like. This is another case where possible legally iffy classification has gone on.)
Later on in the appendices, Focus on the Family is courteous enough to give us a copy of their legal incorporation papers. These also explicitly note it is incorporated under religious incorporation laws, giving a powerful tool to remove its tax-exempt status. (Specifically, they are apparently incorporated under the Nonprofit Religious Corporation Law, in this case apparently using the wording of California's Nonprofit Religious Corporation Law--even though Focus on the Family is based in Colorado, they seem to have originally incorporated in California and kept that incorporation. Why this is so is not exactly apparent; Colorado doesn't even require religious incorporation to register as a church, but does pay more attention to violations of the law re charity registration and is one of the very few states that even requires most churches to register.)
Their preamble pretty much states explicitly they're a religious organisation (thus making half of what they do flatly illegal):
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
This corporation is a religious corporation and is not organized for the private gain of any person. It is organized under the Nonprofit Religious Corporation Law exclusively for religious purposes. The corporation is formed for the express purpose of spreading and propogating the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Such purposes for which this corporation is formed are exclusively religious within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. In addition, this Corporation shall engage in the preparation, publication, and distribution of books, pamphlets, audio and video tape recordings, and other forms of literature designed to promote the Judaeo-Christian view of the family, spousal and parental relationships, and the moral underpinnings of culture.
(page 32 in original. Emphasis mine)
Legally (at least under California nonprofit incorporation laws) it is my understanding that you cannot incorporate under this section unless you are a valid church or religious org that does not do lobbying--in fact, you can be subject to criminal penalties (including being forced to pay restitution) if you fraudulently incorporate as a religious group to avoid taxation.
Bizzarely, even though they seem to have incorporated in California, their address is listed as being in Colorado Springs (again, it's a mystery as to why they've simply not reincorporated in Colorado). Also--to show just how long dominionist movements seen as "new" have been around--the document gives the date of incorporation as June 7, 1977 (as explicitly noted on their corporate seal, according to their incorporation papers).
Focus on the Family also gives a nice summary of their entire media empire from a promotional flyer at the end of the tax filings--presumably to demonstrate why they are requiring moneys of around $140,000,000 yearly. Some of the lesser-known things FotF is promoting include "Christian counseling", including a referral service for "Christian counselors" (many of which use abusive practices almost indistinguishable from those used in Scientology) and even offering courses that provide the equivalent of CME credits (which legitimate psychiatrists and doctors use for continuing medical education required by state licensing boards) for the "Christian Counseling" industry.
The previously mentioned funding of deceptive "Pregnancy counseling centers" (which often set up shop next to legitimate women's clinics and practice "bait and switch"--including free ultrasounds designed to guilt-trip a woman and subject her to hard-sel