Taxpayer Funding for Far-Left Advocacy Groups?
Yesterday, we covered the failure of far-left organizations, The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice and The Louisiana Budget Project, to comply with basic state and federal disclosure and reporting requirements. Since The Power Coalition has not filed the necessary reports with the Louisiana Board of Ethics disclosing their contributions and expenditures in opposition to Constitutional Amendments on the November 13th ballot, we decided to dig deeper and try to identify the sources of their funding.
We’ll start with The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice. As we previously reported, they had their tax-exempt status revoked by the IRS for failing to file their Form 990 tax return for three years. According to IRS records from other organizations that have contributed to The Power Coalition, including Oxfam-America and The Greater New Orleans Foundation, The Power Coalition shares the same Milwaukee, Wisconsin address, and IRS Employer Identification Number (EIN) as “Public Allies”. This would explain why The Power Coalition has not filed its own tax returns- they operate as a subsidiary of the Wisconsin-based Public Allies, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, whose “mission is to create a just and equitable society and the diverse leadership to sustain it.” In Public Allies most recent Form 990 tax return with the IRS, they list Ashley Shelton, the Executive Director of The Power Coalition, as their second highest paid employee, as “Power Executive Director” at a salary of over $130,000 a year. As the Oxfam-America and Greater New Orleans Foundation tax returns show, donations to Power Coalition are routed through Public Allies. Ms. Shelton’s and The Power Coalition’s affiliation with Public Allies are not disclosed on Power’s website- leaving us to wonder why Power Coalition would not disclose their affiliation with Public Allies.
Digging into the reports filed with the IRS, in 2018, the year data is most recently available and that Power Coalition began operating in Louisiana, Public Allies reported $13.2 million in revenue. Of that, $6.7 million came from “government grants”- over 50% of the revenue reported by Public Allies. Most of the government funding, nearly $5 million, comes from the federal government’s scandal-ridden AmeriCorps program, which has a troubled history of giving taxpayer funds to organizations engaging in political campaigns. With the majority of Public Allies funds coming from government grants, it begs the question if that is happening again in Louisiana- your tax dollars flowing from Public Allies to the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice to influence your vote on important propositions that directly affect state tax policy.
In the same year that The Power Coalition began operating in Louisiana, and their parent organization Public Allies received a majority of its funds from taxpayers, The Louisiana Budget Project reported receiving a $25,000 donation from The Power Coalition. They also reported in that same year Ashley Shelton, The Power Coalition Executive Director and the taxpayer-funded Public Allies’ second highest paid employee, as their Treasurer. Since the Louisiana Budget Project has not reported any contributions in their most recent report, and The Power Coalition has not disclosed their contributions and expenditures with the Board of Ethics, we have to wonder if they are still being funded by The Power Coalition and your tax dollars. As we reported yesterday, The Louisiana Budget Project has fallen out of good standing with the State of Louisiana for not filing reports for over 3 years, so we do not know if Ms. Shelton, of The Power Coalition, is still Treasurer for The Budget Project. It would raise significant questions about tax dollars flowing from The Power Coalition to their partners at The Louisiana Budget Project in their joint effort to defeat tax reform measures on tomorrow's ballot.
As your watchdog for good government, we will continue to dig deeper into these organizations and others, continuing to hold those who abuse your tax dollars for political efforts accountable.