J. Russell George, the Inspector General of the treasury Department, responding to the ongoing Acorn scandal, has promised a vigorous oversight of groups that have been given not-for-profit status, but that might be engaged in political activity in violation of their charters. As ABC News is reporting: "Treasury Department Inspector General J. Russell George disclosed today that his office is initiating a review of the IRS's oversight of tax-exempt non-profit organizations and "will review internal IRS referral processes with regard to nonprofit fraud investigations."
All of this renewed vigor has resulted from the exposure of Acorn, of course: "The announcement was made in response to a request from Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine -- the ranking Republicans on the House and Senate government oversight committees -- for the Treasury Department and other government agencies to review their ties to ACORN, following undercover videotapes posted at Biggovernment.com showing two young conservative journalists posing as a prostitute and a pimp receiving advice on how to skirt the law from ACORN employees."
This is all to the good, because the prohibition against political activity is designed to separate the legitimate charities from those with an ax to grind; and a specific political agenda-which brings us to the fraudulent not-for-profit being run by Claire Shulman on behalf of the eviction of businesses from Willets Point. As we have pointed out in commenting on the NY Times article: "The question then is not whether Shulman and the LDC lobbied, but whether they were allowed by law to do so. As WPU told the paper: "A complaint brought by Willets Point United, a collective of landowners in Willets Point opposing eminent domain, sparked the controversy. “Our lawyers informed us that she broke state corporation laws, that she lied to the IRS, filled out fraudulent tax returns,” said Jerry Antonacci, head of WPU. “You can’t tell me this lady is a veteran of politics and doesn’t know the law.”
Now we are disappointed that AG Cuomo and the US Attorney-have yet to respond to the WPU complaint; but just maybe the Treasury Department's new vigor will alter the current political landscape. And we believe that Willets Point United plans to contact Mr. George to inform him that the Flushing Willets Point Corona LDC, just like Acorn, is in violation of its charter. And like Acorn, has political ties that have insulated it from normal-and proper-scrutiny.
As we said last month: "Here's the crux of the matter. The incorporation papers for the LDC proscribe lobbying. The LDC's filing with the Federal government to obtain it's tax exempt status-signed by Claire herself-specifically denied any lobbying effort, in spite of what the former Queens BP now is proclaiming from the roof tops; in effect, placing Shulman squarely in a perjured situation.'
The AG's office is being derelict-it doesn't take three months to act on a prima facia complaint like this; or, to at least get back to the complainants to advise them that the matter is being taken seriously. What we should have learned from the Acorn situation, is that to allow certain favored groups impunity from the law, is to invite abuse. The message should be clear: no one, not even Claire Shulman and Mike Bloomberg is above the law. We'll see if IG George responds to the WPU complaint-and in the process embarrass the AG for his sloth in the matter.