Anti-marriage equality groups already out of compliance with financial reporting laws in Washington State
The Oregon-based Faith and Freedom group of organizations — Faith and Freedom Network, Faith and Freedom Foundation, and Faith and Freedom PAC — has been playing a visible role in the campaign led by National Organization for Marriage’s local arm, Preserve Marriage Washington, attempting to overturn Washington’s civil marriage equality law.
Earlier this year, Faith and Freedom and NOM/PMW tried to block passage of the Law. Their efforts failed when bipartisan legislative majorities voted for the bill and Gov. Gregoire signed it into law. Faith and Freedom and NOM/PMW are now attempting to roll back the law via Referendum 74 on the November, 2012 ballot.
Faith and Freedom has been soliciting action and monetary donations from its supporters through almost daily blog posts and e-mails. And, much like its collaborator NOM has done in state after state after state, Faith and Freedom appears to be violating the law with its fundriasing and campaign finance practices.
I. Faith and Freedom Foundation Is Misrepresenting Itself as Tax-Exempt
Faith and Freedom Foundation has been misleading its donors about its tax-exempt status for almost a full year. According to the IRS, Faith and Freedom Foundation’s 501(c)3 federal tax exempt status was revoked May 15, 2011 “for its failure to file a Form 990-series return or notice for three consecutive years.”
Accordingly, Faith and Freedom Foundation can no longer be found in the IRS database of organizations that are eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. A call yesterday to IRS’s Customer Account Services confirmed this.
Despite the revocation of Faith and Freedom Foundation’s tax-exempt status almost a year ago, there are statements in two places on the Faith and Freedom website telling potential donors that donations to Faith and Freedom Foundation are tax-deductible. Both of these statements can be accessed via links found on the website’s main page (view thumbnails by right-clicking):
Faith and Freedom’s President and Director, Gary Randall, typically publishes one blog post per weekday on the Faith and Freedom blog and sends out a corresponding e-mail containing all or part of that day’s blog post as well as links to the blog and website. From January through March, 2012, Gary Randall made a direct fundraising request accompanied by a link to the Faith and Freedom Foundation donation page in 27 blog posts and 21 of the corresponding e-mails.
Additionally, the Faith and Freedom e-mail template contains static donation links to each of the three Faith and Freedom organizations’ donation pages (see highlighted example, right). In this way each of the 62 Faith and Freedom e-mails sent January through March, 2012 may be considered a fundraising solicitation for Faith and Freedom Foundation, regardless of the text in the body of the email.
|There is no statement on the Faith and Freedom Foundation donation page itself telling readers whether donations to Faith and Freedom Foundation are tax deductible.|
II. Faith and Freedom Foundation Is Soliciting Funds in Washington Without Registering as a Washington Charity
“Organizations that fundraise in the state of Washington for charitable purposes are required to register with the Secretary of State’s Charities,” according to the Secretary of State’s website. Faith and Freedom Foundation, though currently soliciting funds within Washington, is not registered with the Washington Charities Program.
III. Faith and Freedom PAC Is Operating Despite Being Officially Inactivate
Washington state law requires that groups spending money on political campaigns register annually with the Public Disclosure Commission and report contributions to and expenditures made by the PAC.
Faith and Freedom Political Action Committee, which was active in years past, has not been reactivated for 2012, according to a search of the Public Disclosure Commission’s website. Yet since early January, 2012 Gary Randall has sent out four emails under the banner of the Faith and Freedom PAC and published at least one blog post containing the phrase “Paid For By Faith and Freedom PAC”. View images of these documents by clicking on the date of the Faith and Freedom PAC E-mail (10-Jan-2012; 16-Jan-2012; 30-Jan-2012; 8-Feb-2012) or Faith and Freedom blog post (29-Mar-2012).
Faith and Freedom’s current use of an unregistered PAC didn’t happen by accident. On Sept. 16, 2011 Gary Randall sent a Faith and Freedom PAC e-mail indicating that he understood that the PAC had to be reactivated before it was used, and what was required to reactivate it:
The administrator of the Faith and Freedom PAC has told us we need 10 registered voters in Washington State to give a minimum of $10 to the PAC to re-activate it. There is about $1000 in the account and we would like to start distributing those funds and others which will be raised in the future toward electing and re-electing those lawmakers who support conservative, Christian social values. And helping to defeat those who do not.