Senator whines to deflect scrutiny of sham charity
When your hand is caught in the cookie jar, the best defense often is to create such a distraction that observers will forget you’re up to your elbow. That’s what state Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb is trying to do by claiming it’s “a political war against me” when, after years of neglect, a recipient of nearly a million dollars of taxpayer money she initiated into state budgets is being asked to follow the law.
It doesn’t matter what anything else is doing out there, this group receiving tax dollars is problematic, if only because it is such a poor use of the peoples’ money and it is fair to ask whether it ever would have received these funds, if even existed, without the legislator spouse of its founder making a personal appeal to other legislators to fund it. That it can’t be bothered to follow a contract it signed with representatives of the citizenry makes all the more appropriate that it come under withering scrutiny.
She’s married to the founder of the Colomb Foundation, which began in 2004 and lists in at least one state document that it is to encourage “everyone to adopt habits of personal safety,” to promote “breast cancer prevention and early detection,” and to encourage “reading by publishing and distributing” free books to area youth. That’s all we can go on because, as previously reported, it apparently never received a final letter of determination from the Internal Revenue Service, which would require a statement of purpose, nor filed any of the Form 990s it legally was required to from 2004-10, when as a result it lost its tax-exempt charity status.
Yet it still holds itself out (as of this publication date) illegally as such, even though it apparently never has received any revenues at all from any source, donor or otherwise, except from state and local governments, according to its audited reports filed with the state (typically late and with adverse notes). They show from the state it got a free $300,000 building and the majority of its funds have been spent on administrative expenses, including salaries.
In other words, it has been nothing else but an instrument to vacuum money from taxpayers to get an expensive asset and provide living expenses for a few individuals in exchange for providing minimal services already being performed by government and other legitimate IRS-approved charities. Further, it has not fulfilled the details of at least one compliance agreement with the state from many years ago, about which a month ago Treas. John Kennedy sent a dunning notice at long last along with others to other groups.
And because he did that, Colomb vents several declarations, starting with this idea of “political war” against her. But all Kennedy or anybody else is doing is reporting factual situation: she sponsored the line items giving money to this group and to another, including the $300,000 building fund item about which one has failed to document properly to the state, but there have been no aspersions cast against her. In fact, there’s not even been a mention questioning whether she had any direct connection to the group, which began to collect money from the state within months of its founding (at that time she was not married to the founder but had a relationship with him), if this group ever would have received any state money at all, or ever have been founded.
(The other group, Serenity 67 formerly headed by her legislative aide, also lost IRS tax-exempt status in 2010 apparently after never having filed a Form 990 of any kind even though it first filed organizationally with the state in 1993, about the time Dorsey-Colomb, then under a previous married name, entered the Legislature by special election. Within two years of its founding, it began receiving state money by line item along with federal money annually generally in the $300,000-$500,000 range, as well as donations generally less than $10,000 a year. It has not completed its required audits for fiscal years 2011 or 2012 yet, after its loss of tax-exempt status.)
Instead, Dorsey-Colomb’s pouts that the media focus on the two groups she vouched for is “unfair” because there doesn’t seem to be much media parsing of the relationships between legislators and the other 32 groups named by Kennedy. Maybe there hasn’t been, although the awards to the two groups were among the largest made by taxpayers and most of the those in the same monetary range either have come into compliance or are working with Treasury staff to rectify. Then again, neither life nor politics are fair, and the fact remains regardless of publicity concerning other miscreants neither group is in compliance despite knowing of these requirements for six years and despite having all of the information available to comply as evidenced by the (chronically late) annual audits performed on the organizations. Her excuse makes about as much sense as a parent’s complaining her kid shouldn’t be ridiculed for cheating seeing as several other kids cheated as well.
She also drags out the “dog-ate-my-homework” excuse when she claims the documentation has been sent but somehow “lost” by Treasury, then insinuates the whole thing has become dramatized because Kennedy is strongly thinking of running for governor in 2015. So what? That’s an open secret, but at the same time Kennedy is fulfilling his legal duties in pursuing this information. He could be running for dogcatcher, or for nothing at all, but those considerations are irrelevant and independent from the fact that he’s doing what a treasurer is supposed to do.
Simply, the facts are these: organizations connected to a state senator, despite signing agreements to do so, have for years failed to make proper reports to the state. Further, this includes one group that continues to misrepresent itself as a tax-exempt charity, that got taxpayer money to gift itself a building and has never seemed to raise a cent on its own outside of taxpayer largesse, and that has spent a majority of these funds on the activities of a handful of individuals including a legislator’s husband that are duplicative of government and other legitimate charities.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 10:30