BREAKING: Michael Bloomberg’s climate money may have gotten his presidential campaign into IRS hot water

From Government Accountability and Oversight (GAO):

IRS Complaint Filed Against Bloomberg Philanthropies for Use as Political Campaign

Tool, Inuring to Private Benefit vs Public Interest

“I bought that” candidate’s overlapping charitable, for-profit organizations present tangled web

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, the public interest law firm Government Accountability & Oversight, P.C. (GAO) filed a complaint asking the IRS to investigate the apparent use of Bloomberg Family Foundation Inc., and the entity or entities colloquially known as Bloomberg Philanthropies, for apparent use for Michael Bloomberg’s personal, political benefit.

According to the complaint, while Bloomberg Philanthropies publicly “encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy,” recent news reports and other public records raise legitimate questions whether it has been used in recent years to illegally benefit Bloomberg’s political ambitions, including his current campaign for the Democratic nomination for President.

In return for its favored tax-status, a charitable nonprofit promises the federal government that it will not engage in “political campaign activity” (defined as “supporting or opposing a candidate for public office”) and, if it does, IRS zero-tolerance regulations mandate that the charitable nonprofit will lose its tax-exempt status. Similarly, the assets of a charitable nonprofit may not be provided as a campaign contribution to a candidate for public office.

The IRS Compliance Guide for 501(c)(3) Public Charities is clear: “[p]ublic charities are prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of…any candidate for elective public office…Violation of this prohibition may result in revocation of tax-exempt status and/or imposition of certain excise taxes.” 

The New York Attorney General filed charges against the Donald J. Trump Foundation in June 2018 claiming, for example, “The Attorney General’s investigation found that Trump Foundation raised in excess of $2.8 million in a manner designed to influence the 2016 presidential election at the direction and under the control of senior leadership of the Trump presidential campaign.”

More recently, the coincidence between Bloomberg charitable giving to causes run or favored by elected officials and those officials endorsing Mr. Bloomberg’s candidacy for the White House have been reported in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the New Yorker.

This reporting makes clear the appearance that Bloomberg Philanthropies was used as a means to recruit elected officials for future endorsements. Presidential campaigns do not simply occur to someone, no matter how wealthy they are, but are the products of many months and often years of deliberate organization and preparation. The chronology detailed by media outlets presents a compelling argument that Mr. Bloomberg’s philanthropy was performed with a political purpose.

In addition to noting possible problems with various Bloomberg entities being deployed for impermissible uses, GAO’s letter also cites to emails obtained via public record requests:

Several documents obtained under public records laws reveal coordination between Bloomberg charitable expenditures and the for-profit, Bloomberg L.P. Certain records suggest this overlap between the work of senior “Bloomberg Philanthropies” officials and for-profit Bloomberg advisors (including Mr. Bloomberg’s current presidential campaign chairman) is significant, and understood among political beneficiaries. 

For example, one Bloomberg philanthropic project, created to privately hire attorneys for the purpose of “seconding” them to ideologically aligned state Attorneys General to sue the Trump Administration, prepares detailed, bi-weekly reports “for Dan Firger at Bloomberg”  Philanthropies. The legal non-profit’s leader expressed uncertainty, however, whether Firger “shares these with Kevin Sheeky [sic]”,who was at the time the Global Head of Communications, Government Relations and Marketing for Bloomberg L.P., and is now Mr. Bloomberg’s presidential campaign manager. 

Like Mr. Bloomberg’s inventive campaign to hire and place his own organization’s attorneys in state attorneys general offices to pursue issues of concern to Mr. Bloomberg – described by the Wall Street Editorial Board as “State AGs for Rent” – this scheme is unprecedented. 

“The Journal’s editors concluded about Mr. Bloomberg’s “Special Assistant Attorneys General”,

‘The ethical problems here should be obvious’. The same is true here”, said Matthew Hardin, Executive Director of GAO. “The public record contains substantial evidence to question whether Bloomberg’s charitable organization and other outfits have been deployed improperly to obtain personal, political benefit for Bloomberg’s run for the White House. 

“This record, independently detailed, at least in part, by major media outlets represents clear grounds for the IRS to investigate implications for various entities’ tax-exempt status. Indeed the record is so robust that it should already trouble all agencies with jurisdiction over such matters, whether they be IRS, the Justice Department, or state and local law enforcement agencies.”

Government Accountability & Oversight is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to transparency in public officials’ dealings on matters of energy, environment and law enforcement

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Big Al
February 26, 2020 1:40 pm

Houston to little Mike….. You are in TROUBLE !!! PS. HA HA, pain is Coming for you. And your deep state buddies. Looking for BIG name to drop very soon. Who’s in batter box ? So MANY to chose from.

Jeremiah Puckett
Reply to  Big Al
February 26, 2020 1:52 pm

Oh come on! Nothing ever happens to the Democrats. How many subpoenaed emails did Hillary destroy? How many devices did Hillary have classified information on? How many lies did Hillary tell the FBI? How much did call me lie and leak? Should I go on?

Reply to  Jeremiah Puckett
February 26, 2020 2:12 pm

Per the article above, Huma working simultaneously for the Clinton Foundation and also HRC’s SoS staff was illegal. Did I miss when charges were brought? /sarc

William Astley
Reply to  Jeremiah Puckett
February 26, 2020 3:26 pm

So all men and women are equal except for senior Democrat politicians who have deep state protection and deep state support with leaks to the media.

The Biden’s activities during the Obama administration would be criminal in Canada and those responsible for not investigating third world level, obvious in your face corruption would be fired and/or forced to resign,

Son on the pay roll of the most corrupt company in the one of the most corrupt countries in the world and the same son getting a billion dollar plus financing deal for a company he and Kerry stepson formed, from the Bank of China.

These actions appear to be treason where foreign governments are openly buying and influencing US senior politicians.

Reply to  William Astley
February 27, 2020 10:07 am

Biden’s activities are more than likely illegal in the US, it’s just that nobody is interested in prosecuting him.

February 26, 2020 1:46 pm

couldn’t happen to a nicer guy…

February 26, 2020 1:47 pm

This is going nowhere. Unless the complainant can produce evidence that money contributed by Bloomberg’s philanthropic trust underwrote direct campaign activities such as paying for commercials that say “vote for Bloomberg” or for get out the vote efforts, then they’re just pissing in the wind.

All interest groups do the same thing, including Trump and his interest groups, as well as every other interest group from the NRA to NEA to environmental groups to the late Koch brothers. The rule is that direct campaigning on behalf of candidates is prohibited by tax free foundations and trusts. But they can campaign all they want to on issues and education and promoting ideas.

Jeremiah Puckett
Reply to  Duane
February 26, 2020 1:54 pm

That’s not the rule. A church pastor, for instance, cannot stand there and say it is wrong to vote for xxxxx because they support abortion. They are prohibited from far more than just direct campaigning.

Reply to  Duane
February 26, 2020 4:02 pm

When has the NRA or a Koch funded org done anything not principled?

Has Bloomberg ever defended any principle?

February 26, 2020 1:58 pm

Trump’s reelection appears to be in jeopardy. The economic ramifications of the shutdown in China are only now beginning to be felt. Whether or not it actually presents a real existential risk to many Americans, SARS-COV-2 will have economic impacts this year that will be significant. Coupled with the outside chance of severe localized or a broad, national outbreak of the virus in the US and Trump’s bravado of containment and quick resolution and Trump’s credibility with a large number of uninformed people in the middle of the political spectrum is threatened.

As much as I don’t like Bloomberg, he may indeed offer a less insane (radical) option to Trump than Bernie does. Not entirely sure what we should be rooting for here in this case.

Reply to  Brandon
February 26, 2020 2:34 pm

Which CLOWN Democrat/Socialist/COMMUNIST running for president do you think the voters would prefer over President Donald Trump to protect the USA from the threat of the Coronavirus as well as all other threats?

Reply to  Brandon
February 26, 2020 3:02 pm

re: “Trump’s reelection appears to be in jeopardy.”

TNX for the laugh!

Various enterprises, businesses in China have begun shipping product again …

Reply to  Brandon
February 26, 2020 3:36 pm

The politically correct left will not have the guts to do some things that have to be done.

The Donald is more likely to do something effective. If the rest of the world gets nailed, and America doesn’t, he will be golden. The proof will be in the pudding. Even if the economy suffers, he has a clear path to reelection if the American people believe he has protected them from a disaster.

Joel Snider
Reply to  Brandon
February 26, 2020 3:38 pm

What an utterly garbage post.

Reply to  Brandon
February 26, 2020 3:55 pm

That is like the choice between drug resistant staphylococcus and drug resistant tuberculosis.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Brandon
February 26, 2020 5:34 pm

Trump is unbeatable in this election because there is no contest from the motley, extreme left opponents that a totally broken out of touch Democrat machine has allowed to participate. If you have followed reports on this, the DNC knows they are in trouble, and they are resigned to trying to choose at least the best loser to Trump.

The Democrats will be back eventually but only with an about turn away from the radical left and this means new blood. When the party re-elected Nancy Plesiosaur as House Leader after the loss to Trump, never had a retrospective on the stunning loss and doubled down on trying to remove Trump for four stupidly wasted years, it was clear that Trump is a shoo-in for a second term. If Republicans can drag themselves out of the swamp and adopt the new party Trump created, they will be in power for at least a generation. Surely most people can see this, like it or not.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Brandon
February 26, 2020 5:39 pm

Dream on.
Bloomberg running on the Dem ticket will destroy that party, just like Bernie would for opposite reasons.

COVID-19 will be a distant memory by August when the real campaign starts.
The US economy is strong, and energy dominance ensures we will bounce back quickly.

Reply to  Brandon
February 26, 2020 5:40 pm

Coming from someone who’s an expert in seeing things that aren’t there.

Reply to  Brandon
February 28, 2020 4:52 pm

“Not entirely sure what we should be rooting for here …”

If you are like other progrossives, you should of course be rooting for millions of deaths from a U.S. pandemic outbreak, coupled with severe damage to another 40 million peoples economic well being.

In addition, it appears that you should be rooting for one of you children to become a plumber & the other to become a proctologist, because your head is soo far out of sight it is going to take repeated & combined efforts to get it out.

February 26, 2020 2:10 pm

He’s running with a “D” after his name, he’ll get a pass.

February 26, 2020 2:22 pm

Great work, Anthony. It is time to hold Bloomberg’s feet to the fire. His efforts to fill State Attorney General offices with his people is particularly egregious.

Tom in Florida
February 26, 2020 2:50 pm

While we are on politics, in Florida primaries are closed, that is only Democrats can vote in Democrat primaries and only Republicans can vote in Republican primaries (as it should be). Bernie Sanders is actually an Independent not a Democrat. So the questions is: Will Sanders be on the Florida primary ballot for the Democrats?

Reply to  Tom in Florida
February 26, 2020 4:04 pm

Democrats already suing there to boot him off. Outcome, of course, depends on the Party loyalty of the judge.

February 26, 2020 4:55 pm

Months prior to the start of the 2019 Canadian Federal election, the CBC went into overdrive with alarmist climate stories. And it happened that climate change was the Trudeau Liberals main platform as one can see clearly now with the disastrous decision making.
But since Trudeau let all the US green charities investigated by CRA off the hook, green charities monies could work freely without any supervision.

February 26, 2020 6:33 pm

Bloomberg clearly believes that his monetary resources are better spent by his own tax exempt organization than by the federal government.

If the government is equally good or better, Bloomberg shouldn’t bother filing for 501c3 status in the first place, just give the Feds their piece and have full control over disposition of his money.

Kind of like how The Young Turks has been pumping unionization for years, but when their own employees declared their intent to unionize, Cenk flipped out and squashed it immediately.

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