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GOP Bigshot and NOM Attorney James Bopp Accused of Illegal “Personal Enrichment”

James Bopp

Today Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed legal complaints with the IRS and other legal entities alleging that James Bopp diverted money from his James Madison Center for Free Speech (JMCFS) into the Bopp Law Firm for his personal enrichment.

Mr. Bopp, who has made a name for himself by challenging campaign donor disclosure and other sunshine laws, may have personal reasons to prefer the shadows.  CREW describes the basis for the complaints:

James Bopp, Jr. has been systematically diverting virtually all of the assets of LMCFS, a section 501(c)(3) organization, to his own law firm.  For each of the last six years, Mr. Bopp — as the sole manager of JMCFS, and operating unchecked by its board of directors — has transferred all of JMCFS’s funds to the Bopp Law Firm for his personal enrichment.

JMCFS ostensibly is goverened by a five-member board of directors, with Mr. Bopp serving as its general counsel.  In reality, however, as Mr. Bopp himself has stated, he controls JMCFS.  The person JMCFS lists as its president on its website and its tax returns claims to be only a trustee.

JMCFS shares offices with the Bopp Law Firm, has no paid staff, no separate phone number, considers the firm and its general counsel, and the firm handles all of JMCFS’s management, bookkeeping, and filing of IRS returns.  JMCFS also failed to report the Bopp Law Firm as an independent contractor on each of its last four tax returns.  In effect, JMCFS is nothing more than a front for, or “alter ego” of, the Bopp Law Firm.

According to CREW, Mr. Bopp’s alleged diversion of most of JMCFS’s funds to his own law firm is not only a violation of laws governing charities, it means that “JMCFS and the Bopp Law Firm now owe the IRS more than $6.2 million in back taxes.  Further, by repeatedly signing and submitting to the IRS inaccurate tax forms, Mr. Bopp may have made false statements in violation of federal criminal law.”

James Bopp, an adviser to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, was a Republican National Committeeman for Indiana from 2006 until 2012.  His client list is a who’s who of anti-LGBT and anti-choice organizations, including National Organization for Marriage (NOM), Focus on the Family, Traditional Values Coalition, Christian Broadcasting Network, Concerned Women for America and National Right to Life Committee.

Mr. Bopp has repeatedly lost the cases he has argued on behalf of NOM and associated anti-LGBT clients in California, Washington, Iowa, Minnesota and Maine.

Perhaps Mr. Bopp’s most spectacular loss was the Doe v. Reed case, where he argued on behalf of the anti-gay group Protect Marriage Washington that the public doesn’t have the right to know who signs ballot measure petitions.  The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed.  In their 8-1 ruling, the court made clear that public disclosure laws are an important means of making sure measures are not put on the ballot by fraudulent means or mistake, and that nobody has the right to legislate in secret.  This includes voters who act as citizen-legislators when they sign a referendum or initiative petition.

Most recently, Mr. Bopp lost in his effort on behalf of NOM to invalidate Maine’s campaign donor disclosure laws and shield the identity of NOM’s donors.  According to Lewiston Sun-Journal, in 2009 NOM “raised about $1.9 million, the vast majority of the $2.5 million spent in the 2009 campaign that repealed gay marriage in Maine” but didn’t even register as a political action committee, as required by Maine’s campaign finance laws.

Representing anti-LGBT organizations that apparently deal in shady money and shadowy politics doesn’t mean that Mr. Bopp does the same.  But CREW’s legal complaints certainly do raise the question.

CommunityJustice For All

GOP Bigshot and NOM Attorney James Bopp Accused of Illegal “Personal Enrichment”

James Bopp

Today Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed legal complaints with the IRS and other legal entities alleging that James Bopp diverted money from his James Madison Center for Free Speech (JMCFS) into the Bopp Law Firm for his personal enrichment.

Mr. Bopp, who has made a name for himself by challenging campaign donor disclosure and other sunshine laws, may have personal reasons to prefer the shadows.  CREW describes the basis for the complaints:

James Bopp, Jr. has been systematically diverting virtually all of the assets of LMCFS, a section 501(c)(3) organization, to his own law firm.  For each of the last six years, Mr. Bopp — as the sole manager of JMCFS, and operating unchecked by its board of directors — has transferred all of JMCFS’s funds to the Bopp Law Firm for his personal enrichment.

JMCFS ostensibly is goverened by a five-member board of directors, with Mr. Bopp serving as its general counsel.  In reality, however, as Mr. Bopp himself has stated, he controls JMCFS.  The person JMCFS lists as its president on its website and its tax returns claims to be only a trustee.

JMCFS shares offices with the Bopp Law Firm, has no paid staff, no separate phone number, considers the firm and its general counsel, and the firm handles all of JMCFS’s management, bookkeeping, and filing of IRS returns.  JMCFS also failed to report the Bopp Law Firm as an independent contractor on each of its last four tax returns.  In effect, JMCFS is nothing more than a front for, or “alter ego” of, the Bopp Law Firm.

According to CREW, Mr. Bopp’s alleged diversion of most of JMCFS’s funds to his own law firm is not only a violation of laws governing charities, it means that “JMCFS and the Bopp Law Firm now owe the IRS more than $6.2 million in back taxes.  Further, by repeatedly signing and submitting to the IRS inaccurate tax forms, Mr. Bopp may have made false statements in violation of federal criminal law.”

James Bopp, an adviser to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, was a Republican National Committeeman for Indiana from 2006 until 2012.  His client list is a who’s who of anti-LGBT and anti-choice organizations, including National Organization for Marriage (NOM), Focus on the Family, Traditional Values Coalition, Christian Broadcasting Network, Concerned Women for America and National Right to Life Committee.

Mr. Bopp has repeatedly lost the cases he has argued on behalf of NOM and associated anti-LGBT clients in California, Washington, Iowa, Minnesota and Maine.

Perhaps Mr. Bopp’s most spectacular loss was the Doe v. Reed case, where he argued on behalf of the anti-gay group Protect Marriage Washington that the public doesn’t have the right to know who signs ballot measure petitions.  The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed.  In their 8-1 ruling, the court made clear that public disclosure laws are an important means of making sure measures are not put on the ballot by fraudulent means or mistake, and that nobody has the right to legislate in secret.  This includes voters who act as citizen-legislators when they sign a referendum or initiative petition.

Most recently, Mr. Bopp lost in his effort on behalf of NOM to invalidate Maine’s campaign donor disclosure laws and shield the identity of NOM’s donors.  According to Lewiston Sun-Journal, in 2009 NOM “raised about $1.9 million, the vast majority of the $2.5 million spent in the 2009 campaign that repealed gay marriage in Maine” but didn’t even register as a political action committee, as required by Maine’s campaign finance laws.

Representing anti-LGBT organizations that apparently deal in shady money and shadowy politics doesn’t mean that Mr. Bopp does the same.  But CREW’s legal complaints certainly do raise the question.

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