Where do we draw the line?
Posted by Jeff Condon on January 8, 2012
In continuation of my investigation of the actions of the tax exempt 501c corporation the “PACIFIC INSTITUTE FOR STUDIES IN DEVELOPMENT, ENVIRONMENT, AND SECURITY”, I have dug deeper into the tax reporting and operations of Peter Gleick. It appears that this organization operates completely above IRS law, employing what appears to be 95% government taxpayer money for the purpose of actively campaigning against conservative politicians and organizations. It is by no means the only group to do so but we have to start somewhere.
First, here is an article by President Peter Gleick on PIS letterhead specifically critiquing policies of conservative presidential candidates. climate_bs_award_2011
Gleick is an extremist political activist by any form of the definition you care to propose. He’s written numerous left wing propaganda pieces on the ‘green’ blog which are so full of pro-leftist disinformation that communist countries probably look to him for his expertise. Now there is nothing inherently wrong with an organization promoting untruths for a political goal, the 501c’s are a leftist heaven for such things. There are also conservative versions, but far, far fewer of them. Conservatives don’t believe in taking government money for these things. The result though has been a huge imbalance in funding for truth in science rather than the pro-government, pro-AGW, type messages. Thus, it seems reasonable that we should shine a little light on them here.
Unfortunately for Gleick, he’s taken the process a step further in this years climate BS awards. Instead of complaining about those amazingly stupid conservatives, he’s actually taken the time to name and critique Republican presidential candidates for their positions on global warming. This was in the last post but is worth reproducing here:
Climate B.S.* from all of the Republican candidates for President of the United States
Is it really necessary to be anti-science in general, and anti-climate science in particular, in order to be nominated to lead the Republican Party in the United States? Apparently, yes, at least in the minds of the Republican presidential candidates or their advisors. These candidates can be split into three groups: those ignorant or uninterested in science and its role in informing policy; those who intentionally distort science because it conflicts with deeply held political or religious ideology; and those who blow with the wind, giving their allegiance to whatever ideology seems most expedient at any given moment. There is some overlap, of course: some candidates, such as Rick Perry, have been in all three groups at various times. The third group includes candidates who have at one time or another held positions more or less consistent with scientific understanding, but who in 2011 adopted anti-scientific positions during their primary campaigns. For example, Gingrich, Romney, and Huntsman, at some point in the past all expressed at least a partial understanding about the reality and seriousness of human-caused climate change. Yet all three have now retreated from the scientific evidence to faulty but ideological safe positions demanded by the conservative wing of the Republican Party. In October, Romney caved in to conservative pressure and changed his stance on the issue. Just days ago, after pressure from anti-climate-science activists, Gingrich cut a chapter on climate science from a book of environmental essays he had agreed to produce. Ironically, that chapter was to have been written by an atmospheric scientist (Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University) who happens to be an evangelical and speaks regularly to conservative groups. She was also targeted by these activists for personal abuse – a tactic often pursued by climate deniers and contrarians. (For a few of the craziest things the top GOP candidates have said on climate change, see Joe Romm’s recent essay at Think Progress.)
In short, the choice among the Republican candidates on the issue of climate change is scientific ignorance, distain for science, blatant misrepresentation of facts, or naked political expediency, any one of which would make the Republican candidates strong contenders for the 2011 Climate B.S. Award. Combined? They win hands down.
The worst part of the above for my heart, is listing Activist Joe Romm as an honest broker of science. The guy doesn’t have a scientific cell left in his body. They have all atrophied to raisins under his need to be green no matter the evidence. Seriously though, 501C’s are specifically prohibited from participation for or against any politician. This violation of their tax free status cannot be tolerated but we have to report it and then it is up to the IRS to determine whether they should be properly prosecuted. Steve McIntyre took the time to see how the PIS group filed last year and noted the boxes indicating that the group had not campaigned for any candidate in 2010. The above quote is from an article dated1/5/2012 so is the tax exempt group ok until 2013 when they will undoubtedly declare they are tax exempt for 2012?
Here is a list of rules from the US government regarding 501C (3) corporations:
What puts a 501(c)(3) status in jeopardy?
When a 501(c)(3) does not file paperwork with the IRS and/or state or misstates its records intentionally, its tax-exempt status can be jeopardized. Additionally, 501(c)(3) organizations cannot engage in the following activities:
• Conducting extensive lobbying;
• Donating a substantial private benefit to individuals or other organizations for uses not aligned with the organization’s 501(c)(3) purpose;
• Providing outsiders or insiders with personal benefits;
• Engaging in any political activity; and
• Having excessive unrelated business income (UBI).
Joe Romm may want to read up on these.
Cornell University actually lists the code. You can read it in full here. In the meatime, it looks like many 501c’s are way over the line for what they are allowed regarding their tax exempt status. Since some formatting came with the text, I’ll put my bold in color below
§ 501. Exemption from tax on corporations, certain trusts, etc.
(a) Exemption from taxation(b) Tax on unrelated business income and certain other activitiesAn organization exempt from taxation under subsection (a) shall be subject to tax to the extent provided in parts II, III, and VI of this subchapter, but (notwithstanding parts II, III, and VI of this subchapter) shall be considered an organization exempt from income taxes for the purpose of any law which refers to organizations exempt from income taxes.[snip]The following organizations are referred to in subsection (a):(1) Any corporation organized under Act of Congress which is an instrumentality of the United States but only if such corporation—(A) is exempt from Federal income taxes—(2) Corporations organized for the exclusive purpose of holding title to property, collecting income therefrom, and turning over the entire amount thereof, less expenses, to an organization which itself is exempt under this section. Rules similar to the rules of subparagraph (G) of paragraph (25) shall apply for purposes of this paragraph.(3) Corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in subsection (h)), and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.