Gabby Giffords PAC Caught Accepting Illegal Donations

The Center for Public Integrity took at peek at donations flowing into the Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly gun control PAC, and they found several thousand dollars in donations from at least two private foundations and a church that cannot legally donate to political action committees.

The PAC’s defense is that they aren’t doing wrong to take the money, but that they are issuing refunds since they have suddenly learned that these illegal donations are “not appropriate” for the donors to make.

The highest profile non-profit to violate these donations laws is Bette Midler’s family foundation. Her publicist says that it was an accounting error, and the Center’s conversation with an accountant at the firm handling the foundation account merely said they needed to research the laws themselves. (Seriously? They handle this stuff for a living, and the staff don’t even know the basic laws on non-profit giving?)

The other non-profit to violate the donor laws is the Rupa and Bharat B. Bhatt Foundation, but neither one is willing to answer questions from the Center about their donations. The New England Congregational Church in New York also submitted an illegal donation, and the office manager merely confirmed that it was returned. It would seem from the article that she didn’t provide any information on why a church was trying to make political donations in the first place.

10 thoughts on “Gabby Giffords PAC Caught Accepting Illegal Donations”

    1. Really? When the administration harassed Tea Party groups non profit tax exempt applications under the excuse of policing political activity by non profits?

  1. You know, a background check on these private funds transfers would have prevented these illegal transactions.

  2. Nothing to see folks.. keep your hands in your pockets, and move alon… these fellow traveler’s organizations are only looking out for “the greater good”.. but we all need to keep the irs pressure on those evil tea party terrorists. Eric Holder, do you hear me? confiscation.. good! second amendment… baaaadddd!

  3. Has anyone done an analysis of money donated to Gifford’s anti-gun organizations? Not as the average amount of donation, as donors can split up donations to hide their total share. But as the total amount donated from an average donor.

    I will bet you that the overwhelming majority of the money collected so far is from a very small number of donors who contribute very large sums of money in total. The battle over gun-control is very much a class war of the self-selected ruling elite against everybody else; baldly, The Rich vs the non-Rich.

  4. Serious question, since I haven’t been involved directly in any campaigns for more than 20 years: To what extent are campaigns responsible for the legality of their donors’ actions?

    I have mentioned before that after getting burned by donating to campaigns that would later embarrass me, to have ever had my name associated with them, I no long donate to anything, other than anonymously, via anonymous money orders. What are campaigns supposed to do with such donations, given that they can’t tell whether the source is “legally” making a donation, or not?

    And how about (C)(4)s, that don’t have to divulge their funding sources, while doing all kinds of “education” about elections? E.g., “We can’t tell you who to vote for, but did you know that candidate X sits at the right hand of God, while candidate Y performs unnatural acts with goats?

    1. I think the PAC spokeswoman is correct that the PAC isn’t responsible for the actions of the donors. However, I highlighted her response since these illegal donations were simply considered “inappropriate” to them. For the PAC, they should be able to tell to some degree. Pretty much if a check comes in that has a foundation or church name on it, that should be a giant red flag that at least warrants a little more investigation.

      That said, I think the story here would be to look more at the foundations and church that made the donations. The church never even should have considered it, so it begs the question whether they have been quietly donating to other PACs and election activities over the years. The other private foundation is refusing to take questions, so that also seems to raise questions about whether they directed any other foundation funds to causes not legally allowed support by that kind of tax-deductible cash. The Midler foundation probably was a mix-up given that a spokeswoman for her accounting firm indicated that they didn’t even know the laws on such donations and needed to go look them up – only after getting caught violating them.

      Since the Giffords group is not a c(4), but is a PAC that can directly donated to and campaign for candidates, the education issue messaging you cite isn’t really relevant in this context. The groups that made the illegal donations appear to all be groups that otherwise claim tax deductible status, so they also can’t participate in those kinds of somewhat subtle attempts to influence elections.

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