Focus on the Family and tax-form hanky-panky
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Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 03:47:54 PM EST
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 get FotF materials for free, or for "donations" of a token amount ranging from one cent on up); 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.

EDIT: I now have included forms and instructions on how to file your own complaint to the IRS. See below.

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)   
$126,531,298.00 (Contributions)   
$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)
$8,765,048.00     (Contributions)
$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)

Hmmm.  OK, so far, this is the only state I've found where FotF's registration records seem to be remotely on the level.  

Doing some further research, I did some checking in regards to FotF's status as a charity in New York State.  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 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".  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 form 990s 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.

Among other things, the 990 online (which includes the appendices, which has most of the good info) has info on their direct mailing/"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.

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":

EXPLANATION

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 doesn't deter FotF--they even admit that some of their "religious" products are pretty much used for lobbying.  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.


(emphasis mine)

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.  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.


(emphasis mine)

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 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.)
If this isn't a violation of 501(c)3 status, I don't know what the hell is.  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.  It is revealing that they're a major funder of the dominionist "parallel economy" in general.)

One of the non-gifted 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.)

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.)

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.)

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.)

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.  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 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.  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 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).  Another board member is Kathleen Nielson, who is apparently connected with the PCA and promotes dominionist "wife should submit to the husband" claptrap and 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.

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.  (In fact, as a religious organisation, they shouldn't technically be allowed to file for 501(c)4 status at all.)

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 (bizarrely) incorporated in California--yet another thing that raises questions.)  Their preamble pretty much states explicitly they're a religious organisation (thus making half of what they do flatly illegal):

ARTICLE I
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) 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 (which in and of itself is legally dodgy, at least according to California law).  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-sell (and which may, ironically, put wanted pregnancies at risk, as dominionist centers are not medically licensed nor are persons properly trained in the use and contraindications for ultrasound screening), the misuse of tax dollars for this nonsense, deliberately spreading FUD about legitimate orgs like the March of Dimes, spread deceptive information (such as claims that the IUD and birth control pill are abortifacients or that condoms are ineffective or that spermicides cause cancer), and which specifically target kids--is mentioned, as is the "Focus on the Family Institute" which is an unaccredited institution which trains college age students in Dominionist Tactics 101--and falsely claims its collegiate credits are transferrable (only to other unaccredited, dominionist "Bible colleges" and places like Liberty University, Patrick Henry College, and other "dominionist mill" schools--not to legitimate colleges and universities) and which has promoted stuff considered radical for even proponents of "de-gaying therapy" that claim that gay and transgendered boys are the result of Daddy not encouraging them to be more manly.  "Focus Over Fifty", the "parallel economy" alternative to AARP, has apparently been renamed to "Midlife and Beyond"; apparently they are explicitly promoted by International Foursquare (an Assemblies-descended "daughter" church founded by Aimee Semple McPherson and one of the earliest dominionist churches in the US, and which shares the same abusive tendencies as most churches explicitly adopting dominion theology) in part because one of the primary writers for "Midlife and Beyond" and its newsletters is associated with that denomination.  Programs also exist explicitly to help parents raise future dominionists ("Heritage Builders"), promoting "de-gaying therapy" and the discredited hack-jobs of Paul Cameron ("Love Won Out"), a specific group to promote invasion of chaplaincy programs by dominionists, a dominionist doctor's association ("Physician's Research Councils" and "Physicians Outreach") including conferences targeted specifically at dominionist-friendly medical professionals as well as pushes for expansion of "moral refusal" clauses that include refusing healthcare services altogether to LGBT folks and also pushing for states to recognise dominionist-friendly board accreditation groups (like the "American College of Pediatricians") in an end-run against licensing requirements requiring doctors and other medical professionals to follow ethics laws; and "pastoral ministries" groups targeting pastors (and often being some of the prime culprits in sending illegal voter's guides and promoting their use in churches).

Needless to say, if a group were to follow up on this--like, oh, DefCon America or Americans United--this could provide some pretty potent ammo to stop this sort of sillybuggers.

Similar research, IMHO, should probably be done with AFA and some of the larger dominionist churches known to be linked to this sort of activity (like, for example, World Harvest Church in Columbus, OH).  This could give some of the needed info to get the tax-exempt status of these idiots yanked.

(And yes, having their tax-exempt status yanked is a real threat--this is at least the second time that FotF has had to essentially split a lobbying wing off (the first time was in the formation of the Family Research Council) because of unwelcome attention from the IRS.  And the IRS is starting to give the hairy eyeball to dominionist groups; recently Operation Rescue West lost its tax-exempt status for illegal electioneering.)

In the meantime--in the spirit of putting "action" to "Talk2Action"--here's how you can file your own complaint to the IRS. :3

The IRS has a complaint form here; I've taken the liberty to fill out the necessary information in Adobe Acrobat and have placed archives of it at a large number of hosting mirrors (you are encouraged to mirror widely, especially groups like DefCon America et al).

All you need to do with this form is fill out your name, address, phone number and any additional comments (and you can fill out the form anonymously if you wish). After that, print it out and mail it to:

Internal Revenue Service
Fresno, CA 93888

Mirrors follow:

four.fsphost.com hosting (primary)
Free Image Host mirror
RapidShare hosting
YouSendIt hosting
Myfile.ch hosting
FreeFileUpload hosting
files.to hosting
GigaSize hosting
SendSpace hosting

Again, if you can, *please* mirror this on your own sites as well.




Display:

You put it all together for us.

We owe it to you to do something about this.

Do we have to wait for the IRS?

Another connection to the DeVos family is Blackwater, the military mercenaries - Prince is the CEO.

Also there's the connection to Amway, the multilevel marketing scam.

What would happen if DefCon America or Americans United (501C3 I assume?) were to go after these dominionist 501C3's?

Would they risk losing their tax exempt status?

Would the Political Action Committee be a more appropriate vehicle to pursue these tax cheaters?



by justintime on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 04:10:14 PM EST
One could make the argument that if FotF tried to file against PFAW or Americans United that they'd have a very good case at a SLAPP suit.

One possible way to avoid this is with many, many people independently sending in complaints.  (It's worked for the dominionists; we can happily hoist them on their own petard!)

Follow the instructions I've just posted on filing an IRS complaint and you'll be good to go. :3

four.fsphost.com hosting (primary)
Free Image Host mirror
RapidShare hosting
YouSendIt  hosting
Myfile.ch hosting
FreeFileUpload hosting
files.to  hosting
GigaSize hosting
SendSpace hosting

Again, if you can, please mirror this on your own sites as well.

by dogemperor on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 05:30:57 PM EST
Parent

I don't have a website, dogemporer, but I think you should post this as a diary on DailyKos.

Lots of traffic and eager activists there. 



by justintime on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 07:52:48 PM EST
Parent
I've not posted the story in its original format (more of a summary, pointing folks here, with the tax form info and complaint form links and address) but I've just posted on it on DailyKos (for all it's worth).

by dogemperor on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 10:11:47 PM EST
Parent
so we can recommend your diary.


by justintime on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 10:26:09 PM EST
Parent
This is going to sound really retarded, I know, but how do I go about doing that? (Like I noted, I really don't post on DK that much, so I'm unfamiliar with tip-jars and such)

by dogemperor on Thu Sep 21, 2006 at 01:41:55 AM EST
Parent

I don't post all that often on Dkos either.

But  a tip jar is just a quick follow up post by the author of a diary that lets readers check the "recommend" box.

Recommends help keep the diary from sinking into oblivion.

Today there will be a "diary rescue" post from SusanB. Your diary might be one of those selected to come back from oblivion.

Your diary got 33 comments, a lot of interest and some potentially useful suggestions - overall not bad for a newbie. 

As one of the posters suggested, do it again.

Also I think you should put up your "James Dobson and religiously motivated child abuse" piece as a diary on Dkos.



by justintime on Thu Sep 21, 2006 at 10:41:28 AM EST
Parent

dogemperor,

Even though the FOF post on DKos dropped off the radar, there are several more comments - total of 37 now.

I just wanted to call your attention to this because the last one has what may be valuable information.

Check it out:

 http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/9/20/221453/431

You can also find your archived diary by using the search function at Dkos. 



by justintime on Thu Sep 21, 2006 at 08:42:18 PM EST
Parent
Actually, I'm talking with the guy now--and the main question here would appear to be the amount of lobbying churches are allowed to do, the level of explicitness of lobbying, and how much they're spending for it.

According to their form 990, it's around 10 million bucks if not more, but the question is how much of the ten million is used to print lobbying material.  

At the same time, though, I still think it's worth a shot--after all, they're going after All Saints for the content of one sermon and I was able to find no less than fifteen separate instances of what is probably illegal electioneering from Focus on the Family's CitizenLink site (among other things, explicit instructions to call congresscritters in support of specific bills or in opposition to specific bill numbers--which crosses the line to legal no-no for a 501(c)3).  If All Saints gets busted and FotF doesn't, it's as sure a sign as any something is rotten in Denmark--and then the real fun starts, so to speak.

At the very least, the IRS would have to subpoena FotF's books to get info on percentages, and odds are they'd find quite a bit of misbehaviour. :3

A separate concern, and one I'm talking with him on, is the specific abuse by Focus on the Family of the church exemption to avoid registration with state Attorneys-General.  (This is more than a bit deceptive IMHO.)  

But yes, he is providing useful info--and I may go ahead and repost an expanded version of the post I have here on Talk2Action as well as ePluribusMedia (with examples of lobbying violations from Focus on the Family added) tomorrow night or Saturday.

by dogemperor on Fri Sep 22, 2006 at 02:34:34 AM EST
Parent

Way to go dogemperor!


You found a valuable ally on Dkos.
Glad you're planning another diary.

Just a few suggestions to help you attract more interest in this important cause, for what they're worth.

You may find that posting your diary earlier in the day will attract more interest.

Leading off with a paragraph or two of general info about Dobson, for readers unfamiliar with FOF, might also attract more participation.

You don't need to lay out all of the detail  in the initial diary. Save some ammunition for  "updates" and followup posts.

Next time don't forget to post a "tip jar" right after posting the diary, so readers can check the "recommend" box and boost the diary up into the "Recommended Diary" list.  Recommended Diaries stay up a lot longer than "Recent Diaries", as you may have already noticed.

Also giving your allies (those who have already stated their interest in this issue - elise, troutfishing, sassy, MadGeorgiaDem, LNK, DWG and of course, terjeanderson and justintime) some advance notice of when you are going to put up the diary will let them help you get the momentum started off.

Next time I hope you can get a savvy tax lawyer interested.

Also I'm wondering if the IRS route couldn't be supplemented by complaints to Attorney Generals in those 8 states where FOF plans to focus their efforts.  If you think this is worthwhile, then appeal to "Kossacks" that live in those states to get on board.

I'm mailing off my IRS complaint today.



by justintime on Fri Sep 22, 2006 at 12:22:05 PM EST
Parent
a) I'll be sure to remember the timing for the repost and to add a summary of Dobson's activities.

b) I've not yet been able to find an option to add a tip jar when I post--do you know where this would be located on a free account on DailyKos?  (If I knew where it was, I'd add it, certainly enough--I just can't figure out for the life of me where the hell it is! :3)

c) I'll also remember the whole thing about giving advance notice to people who'd be willing to help promote it :3

(Yeah, I'm a newb on DailyKos.  Which is sad, seeing as I've been a regular on here for years as well as Slashdot, and remember when the only forums of this sort were on a near-forgotten network protocol known as Usenet :3)

by dogemperor on Fri Sep 22, 2006 at 09:19:29 PM EST
Parent

Just a funny name for posting to your own diary.


by justintime on Fri Sep 22, 2006 at 10:22:52 PM EST
Parent
Ah, okay, that makes sense.  (Wasn't aware that was DKos slang for that, things make much more sense, and I feel like I should be wearing a dunce cap right now, LOL)

by dogemperor on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 08:31:54 PM EST
Parent









If you're a regular there, feel free to point them to this article :3  (And yes, that goes for the rest of you who post on DK regularly. :3  I don't post on there all that often, but I may repost it there or post a link to this article if someone else doesn't beat me to it.)

by dogemperor on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 09:16:07 PM EST
Parent

dogemperor,

You tell the story much better than I could.
It's such an important story and I'm afraid I might blow it.

DailyKos would be a great platform for the ready made IRS complaint form.  

If you post it, I'll recommend it and help you keep the momentum going so it doesn't die an early death. 

There are other political sites where I think this story would get attention from serious bloggers.



by justintime on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 10:02:44 PM EST
Parent
OK, here you go (at least the DKos version, which admittedly is kind of a Cliff's Notes version of this post):

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/9/20/221453/431

Those willing to recommend this, thanks blush  The more momentum, the better I say :3

by dogemperor on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 10:13:58 PM EST
Parent







an amazing piece of investigative work here.

Why don't you send this diary link to DefCon America, Americans United and anyone one else your resourceful brain can think of?  

Fantastic job!  :-)

by moiv on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 02:40:25 AM EST

Not only am I sending it on to DefCon America and Americans United, but also a few other groups that may well be interested in this.  (Yes, this will include my own filing of a complaint with the IRS.)

Hopefully this will get out more in the open, and if at all possible, spread the word about this to groups that may be interested and can do something about this.

I would also strongly encourage everyone reading here to file a complaint against Focus on the Family with the IRS.  A form is here: http://www.irs.gov/compliance/enforcement/article/0,,id=106778,00 .html (you will have to print it out and mail it, but this will give more info).

Especially as Focus on the Family is now actively lobbying in eight states (a direct violation of the tax laws, seeing as FotF is registered as a church or religious organisation--which is absolutely prohibited) it's important to make sure they get busted and busted hard for this stuff.

by dogemperor on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 02:39:00 PM EST
Parent

I'm glad I found this site.

Filing a complaint is a great idea.

I'm in.

Since you've done the research, what about helping us with appropriate entries on the Form 3949-A?



by justintime on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 04:21:51 PM EST
Parent
Hold on a sec--and I'll post copies of a pre-filled form you can print out and send in yourself to the IRS :3

by dogemperor on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 04:50:04 PM EST
Parent

I've posted this in the main post too, but here goes:

four.fsphost.com hosting (primary)
Free Image Host mirror
RapidShare hosting
YouSendIt  hosting
Myfile.ch hosting
FreeFileUpload hosting
files.to  hosting
GigaSize hosting
SendSpace hosting

Again, if you can, please mirror this on your own sites as well.

by dogemperor on Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 05:31:34 PM EST
Parent





I've posted an expanded version of the essay on DailyKos, complete with examples of illegal electioneering (and a tip jar this time!).

Those of you who are members are welcome to recommend :3

by dogemperor on Tue Sep 26, 2006 at 09:15:05 AM EST

I gave it a recommend.

Haven't had time to read it. 

I'm out of the office and away from internet access until Friday.

I'll check in when I get back. 



by justintime on Tue Sep 26, 2006 at 09:51:45 AM EST
Parent


How timely!  I just received and participated in a "survey" -- an interactive robo-call -- which is not a survey at all but a get-out-the-vote ID tactic.  The recording ending with the statement that the call was paid for by the Family Foundation of Virginia (state affiliate of Focus on the Family).

FFV has a statewide action arm, Family Foundation Action, but this call said FFV.

After the call was done, I started googling.  I knew already of the connection to FoF, but was amazed and horrified to discover that both FoF and FFV are "charities" that receive funds from the Combined Virginia Campaign (the state employees' United Fund-esque charity umbrella, modeled after the Combined Federal Campaign).  The organizations have to file some information with the campaign to do this; here are the links for the FoF and FFV for 2006.

The googling led me to dogemperor's timely post.

The call I received today is pure and simple voter ID for the purpose of tagging supporters to get out to vote on November 7.  No c3 organization should be able to do this and keep their tax deductible status.  And the sponsorship disclaimer clearly named the c3 division, not their c4 arm.  Actually, c4s can't do electoral activity either, I don't think, only lobbying.

Anyway, this is clearly electoral activity, even if it can't be tagged as a what it is, support for federal candidates. [That's the sole and entire purpose for the "marriage amendment", to increase turnout of hard-core supporters of George Allen and Republican congressional candidates.] They've covered their rears by asking questions that pertain (or could be explained as pertaining) to issues that will be brought up in the Virginia General Assembly.

Below are the questions in the "survey". I transcribed them immediately after the call, from memory:

Are you pro-life?
Do you believe marriage should be only between one man and one woman?
In Virginia, when a person dies, inheritance left to family and friends is taxed. Do you support the permanent elimination of death tax?
Do you support giving tuition tax credits (vouchers? can't remember wording) to allow parents to send students to the best schools for their children?
Do you oppose the use of unborn fetuses for stem cell research?
Do you support requiring internet pornography filters on computers at all public schools and libraries?
Do you support giving women who have abortions the option of giving anesthesia to their unborn _? {can't remember noun, was too horrified to listen closely}
Do you approve of churches getting involved in political issues?
Have you contributed to a political campaign or non-profit organization?
Do you attend services at a church, synagogue, mosque, or temple at least once a week?

Apologies to the faithful here -- I could only answer one question 'yes', and it wasn't the last one.  ;)

Clearly, the more yes's to this "survey", the more urgently the respondent is marked down for get-out-the-vote efforts in November.  I take it for granted that only registered voters are part of this "survey," though verifying that would require learning who the call contractor is and getting them to answer questions about this call.

by Nell on Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 04:00:03 PM EST



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