Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Shadowy Right Wing Group Paid Matt Whitaker $1.2 Million

Acting AG Matthew Whitaker accepted over $1.2 million in shady money from unknown sources.
Driving home yesterday evening on satellite radio CNN was reporting that Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker had not filed required financial disclosure forms.   Now, perhaps we know why as the Washington Post reports that Whitaker was paid $1.2 million by a shadowy and mysterious "charity" with financial sources flowing from the far right.  The disclosure raises yet further questions as to Whitaker's fitness for the position - even if he had received required Senate confirmation - given his role with a business that scammed millions from citizens until it was shut down by government regulators.  Adding further to the mix is the requests by Senate Democrats that the Department of Justice investigate whether Whitaker had been relaying confidential information from the Russiagate investigation directly to Der Trumpenf├╝hrer.  It would seem the surest bet to a Trump appointment is to have engaged in unscrupulous business practices and to display a lack of moral integrity.  Here are highlights from the Post piece: 
In the three years after he arrived in Washington in 2014, Matthew G. Whitaker received more than $1.2 million as the leader of a charity that reported having no other employees, some of the best pay of his career.
The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust described itself as a new watchdog nonprofit dedicated to exposing unethical conduct by public officials. For Whitaker, it became a lucrative steppingstone in a swift rise from a modest law practice in Iowa to the nation’s top law enforcement job. As FACT’s president, he regularly appeared on radio and television, often to skewer liberals.
But FACT’s origins and the source of funding used to pay Whitaker — now the acting attorney general — remain obscured. An examination of state and federal records, and interviews with those involved, show that the group is part of a national network of nonprofits that often work in concert to amplify conservative messages.
In its application to the IRS for status as a tax-exempt organization, the organizers reported that the group would study the impact of environmental regulations on businesses, records show. In that incarnation, the group took no action and “only existed on paper,” one man named in IRS filings as a board member told The Washington Post. Another named in a state filing as a board member said he never agreed to be on the board.
Whitaker’s 2017 pay from the charity — more than $500,000 for the first nine months, or half the charity’s receipts for the year, according to tax filings — and the group’s earlier, dormant incarnation have not been previously reported by media. 
Whitaker did not respond to requests for interviews. Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec declined to answer detailed questions about his involvement in FACT, referring a reporter to the charity.
A FACT spokesman who provided a statement on the condition that his name not be used declined to disclose the source of its funding. . . . . FACT does not and is not required to release its donor information,” the statement said. “This protects free speech rights of all of these groups’ supporters as outlined in the First Amendment.”
[I]n 2012, Whitaker was a former U.S. attorney with a modest legal practice in Iowa that paid him $79,000 that year, according to a later disclosure he filed for a failed Senate bid. He also had several local side businesses, including a day-care center and a trailer manufacturer. 
Noah Wall, now a vice president of advocacy for a conservative nonprofit called FreedomWorks, was listed in Virginia state filings as a director of the group in 2014. Wall said he was surprised to learn of his role. He said he was approached by Wotring but never agreed to join.
“I never signed anything,” he said. “I’m not entirely sure what any of this is.” 
On July 21, 2014, the IRS approved the group’s application for tax-exempt charity status, which was also signed by Wotring, the group’s secretary. In its application, the group said it would be nonpartisan and aim “to develop unbiased research on how government regulations on environmental policy can impact business.” The group by then had changed its address to a UPS Store in Fairfax, which was also used by Americans for Limited Government. [J]ust six weeks later, the newly approved charity changed its name, according to corporate records in Virginia. It was briefly called Working for Rights to Express & Communication.
The name was changed again in October of that year, to the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, according to records in Virginia. That same month, Whitaker, who had lost a primary bid for a U.S. Senate seat, became the group’s leader, according to Kupec, the Justice spokeswoman.
The charity’s mailing address was moved from Virginia to an office suite at a prestigious spot on K Street in the nation’s capital — a virtual office and mailing address shared by 200 organizations.
After the [2016 presidential]election, Whitaker’s focus in those interviews turned to another target, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Whitaker or hosts named Mueller 185 times.
Tax filings show that one of FACT’s biggest contractors was America Rising, a research and communications firm in Arlington, Va., “whose mission is to help its clients defeat Democrats,” according to its website. FACT paid America Rising at least $500,000 for research from 2015 to 2017, tax filings show.
In the three years he worked at the charity, Whitaker’s pay rose sharply each year, tax filings show. Last year, he was paid $55,000 a month. In all, he earned $1,219,000 — more than a third of the donations the group received from 2014 to 2017.
An IRS spokesman declined to comment, citing federal privacy law.
One of the most disturbing aspects of the article is the large sums of money being given by unidentified sources - which could even be foreign sources.  The claim that the First Amendment should allow donor's to remain anonymous is absurd.  Having to put one's name on one's donations in no manner denigrates the right of free speech.  Indeed, the Founding Fathers contemplated that in exercising free speech, one would not be hiding in some murky background. I am opposed to anonymous donations of any kind unless the "charity" is a real charity that supports the poor, the sick, and the homeless.

1 comment:

Sixpence Notthewiser said...

Not surprised. Not at all.