Sunday, January 13, 2019

PELTIER: PUBLIC CHARITY? PART 2, INUREMENT

Dear Supporters:

This may be the proverbial smoking gun (certainly, no pun intended) in Peltier’s decades long quest to fill his coffers ostensibly for charitable activities but are clearly to pad an alleged need to fund his flagging and arguably non-existent legal defense. 

Peltier has pointed that gun at his own foot and loaded it with a bullet that has  “Inurement” written on it.

Peltier’s alleged charitable activities, and there have been many claims, when brought into the sunlight hardly stand up to scrutiny. (Footnote 1)

Based on years of myth and folklore Peltier has offered himself as the
warrior/victim, as a prophet of sorts for Native rights, but based on his continued cash-centric efforts has become more the prophet of profits.

Peltier has claimed many times that donations to his cause were tax-deductible (often removing, yet returning to the tax deductible mantra; however, there is an explanation for these on-and-off-again claims) but this time adding an extra layer that they are indeed legitimate and under the guise of a “Public Charity” with 501(c)3 status.

The Internal Revenue Service is very clear about the requirements for tax deductible activities of “E.O” or Exempt Organizations and granting 501(c)3 status.

The Application for Recognition of Exemption, I.R.S. Form 1023, clearly states:

“Section 501(c)3 requires that your organizing document state your exempt purpose(s), such as charitable, religious, educational, and/or scientific purposes.”

I.R.S. regulations make it clear that:

Private Benefit and Inurement A public charity is prohibited from allowing more than an insubstantial accrual of private benefit to individuals or organizations. This restriction is to ensure that a tax- exempt organization serves a public interest, not a private one. If a private benefit is more than incidental, it could jeopardize the organization’s tax-exempt status. No part of an organization’s net earnings may inure to the benefit of an insider. An insider is a person who has a personal or private interest in the activities of the organization such as an officer, director or a key employee. This means that an organization is prohibited from allowing its income or assets to accrue to insiders.

And further:

If a public charity provides an economic benefit to any person who is able to exercise substantial influence over its affairs (that exceeds the value of any goods or services provided in consideration), the organization has engaged in an excess benefit transaction.

There is no dispute that Leonard Peltier and his committee have more than a casual or symbiotic relationship. They are one in the same, mirror images with common links and goals. Peltier has made it clear that he is in charge and none of the committee’s public pronouncements and activities exist without his approval. Peltier is the insider. Without Peltier there would be no need for a committee as Peltier unquestionably exercises substantial influence over its affairs. There is an ongoing and lengthy history supporting this conclusion.

To further reveal this assertion in July 2016 the ILPDC publicly posted the following:

“There is only one Committee. The ILPDC is planning/managing the only official freedom campaign for Leonard Peltier (in concert with Leonard Peltier and his attorneys). You may see public or Internet-based fundraising efforts not endorsed or managed by the ILPDC. Beware. These are not approved actions and the fundraising isn’t being done on behalf of the Committee. Only credentialed chapters of the ILPDC and selected partners are authorized to raise funds in Leonard’s name. Therefore, we encourage donors to always ask for a fundraiser’s credentials and/or check with the ILPDC as to the legitimacy of any fundraising effort conducted by an individual or organization other than the ILPDC. Thank You.”(Emphasis added)

Yet, with the legal requirement that a 501(c)3 be established for charitable, religious, educational and/or scientific purposes the committee offers these notable public statements:

“There’s some good news on the Tax front as we received word from the IRS that we’ve received our 501c3 status! So, all of you that have been waiting to send your donations can use them as a tax right off (sic) –now is the time.”

“In addition, the timing couldn’t be better as we are struggling in our fundraising for the office and Leonard’s legal fund.” (8/31/18)

“This move forward will entail us requesting Leonard’s supporters to help make this a reality by contributing to Leonard’s legal fund. And we can let you know that we can send you a tax deduction for your donation as our 501(c)3 has after much struggle become a reality!”  (10/8/18)

It has been hectic here at the National Office, and I want to bring you all up to date on our needs for financial help. We need help on paying Leonard’s legal fees for his transfer and his First Amendment case in Washington State. We are estimating that we will need to raise $5,000 by the end of 2018. For supporters that need a tax deduction we are a 501c3 organization and will happily send you a tax statement for 2018 tax year.  (11/20/18)

Mandated within the I.R.S. Form 1023 application is the “Required Provisions in Your Organizing Document.”

The application referenced that provision as being “Page 1 Article II Paragraph 1.”

However, that section of the ILPDC By-Laws states the following:

Article II. Purposes 
The purposes for which the corporation is organized are: 

To bring together through intersecting learning circles the indigenous knowledge and traditions of the original inhabitants of North America with governing society procedures and practices. On this most heterogeneous of continents, with intertwined histories of its peoples evolving from all parts of the globe, the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee will work to blend cultures and traditions through mutually respectful identification and acknowledgement of shared universal needs and values to help support and strengthen socially responsible and equitably administered democratic nations

Said organization is organized exclusively for charitable, religious, educational, and scientific purposes, including, for such purposes, the making of distributions to organizations that qualify as exempt organizations described under Section 501(c)(3) of the internal Revenue Code, corresponding section of any future federal tax code. (Emphasis added)

Sounds notable, even beneficent but also a bit conspicuous that nowhere in the By-Laws or on the Form 1023 does it state they are raising “tax deductible” donations for the legal fund of a convicted double murderer. 

It’s more likely than not that the I.R.S. would not have granted the 501(c)3 if the organizing document or the Form 1023 spelled out the apparent purpose of raising money for Peltier’s legal fund as their highly public pronouncements indicate.

That approved 501(c)3 would hardly serve a public interest but obviously a private one, that of Leonard Peltier, who without qualification has a personal or private interest in the activities of the organization.

* * *

Fortunately, the I.R.S. has a process to report concerns regarding Exempt Organizations.

IRS.gov provides a Tax-Exempt Organization Complaint (Referral) Form 13909 that requests certain information (Fn. 2):

Name of referred organization: International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, 116 W. Osborne Ave., Tampa, Florida, 33603.

Employer Identification number (EIN): 81-5117989.

Nature of violation: The Form 13909 provides a list of boxes that can be checked where appropriate.

Names of persons involved: Jean Roach (Chairperson), Gerri Timmons (Treasurer), Dan Battaglia, (Secretary), Stephanie Autumn (Director), Yvonne Swan (Director), Paulette Dauteuil (Co-Director)

Dates: The I.R.S. letter 947 approving public charity and 501(c)3 status for the ILPDC was dated August 22, 2018, however the Effective Date of Exemptionwas backdated to December 15, 2017. (Note the dates of the public fund raising notifications listed above.)

Submitter information: On the form the submitter information has a box that can be checked to not disclose the submitter’s identity.

* * *

The above is provided for background and informational purposes.

Supporters may take whatever action they feel appropriate concerning Peltier and the ILPDC’s 501(c)3 and whether it is appropriate for a convicted double murderer to be entitled to such tax exempt status.

“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
Ed Woods

Footnotes:
(2004-2007 and needs to be updated, however, the 501(c)3 issue is timely)