Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A tax-exempt GOP rally and hate fest

This isn't exactly breaking news, since I reported on the gathering of nuts when it occurred last spring.

But I've just come across a first-hand description of what went on at the "Future Wisconsin" conference organized by Chief Nut Bob Dohnal. It raises some interesting questions about the "Republican convention" atmosphere of an event sponsored by groups which have tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS is very clear that political activity is not allowed:
To be tax-exempt as an organization described in IRC Section 501(c)(3) of the Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for one or more of the purposes set forth in IRC Section 501(c)(3) and none of the earnings of the organization may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate at all in campaign activity for or against political candidates.
Keep that in mind as you read this report from the Wisconsin Center for Pluralism, which sent someone to the conference:

About 250 conservatives gathered March 11 at the Bluemound Gardens Conference Center in the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa for the second annual "Future Wisconsin" conference. The event was sponsored by the Wisconsin Conservative Leadership Coalition (WCLC) and its publishing arm, Wisconsin Conservative Digest, with financial support from the corporate-financed Americans for Prosperity Foundation (APF)...

Lashing out at liberals, unions and Democrats, however, was the primary focus of many speakers at the Future Wisconsin Conference, as was a constant undertone of misogyny.

Hillary Clinton was described as a "militant socialist," Gov. Jim Doyle a "liar" and the Wisconsin Education Association Council "vicious." Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Herbert Grover "was ugly, just ugly." State Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager is "the most petty, unprofessional person" to hold that office. In a misleading attack orchestrated by GOP opponent Paul Bucher, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk (a Democrat challenging Lautenschlager) was repeatedly mocked as "Catch & Release Kate." Liberal women politicians generally, but Senator Clinton in particular, were the objects of continual derision, with the audience clapping and laughing uproariously.


The conference served as an unabashed pep rally for Republican candidates for state and national office. GOP consultant Daniel Schnur warmed up the audience early in the day with a stirring call to arms for the 2008 election. ("Our candidate… Our nominee… Our President…") Gubernatorial candidates Mark Green and Scott Walker (who later bowed out) addressed the crowd as did Attorney General candidates Bucher and J.B. Van Hollen. Green's campaign manager Mark Graul was a panelist, as were Lieutenant Governor candidate Jean Hundertmark and Congressional candidate Terri McCormick (seeking Green's 8th District Congressional seat). Milwaukee's Perfecto Rivera drew cheers when he said he might run against US Rep. Gwen Moore. As the crowd roared, someone seated behind me made racist comments related to Rep. Moore, who is African American.

Campaign literature, political buttons and bumper stickers were placed on all the chairs of the meeting hall, creating the look and feel of a mini-GOP convention. Because both sponsoring groups, WCLC and the AFP Foundation, are classified as 501(c)3 tax-exempt organizations, the event seemed to flout IRS rules restricting partisan and electoral activity...

Jessica McBride, journalist and right-wing radio host on WTMJ-AM 620 in Milwaukee, expressed thanks to Ronald Reagan for repealing the Fairness Doctrine, the FCC regulation that required equal time for opposing views on the airwaves. Without its repeal, there might be no right-wing radio today, she said. Vicki McKenna, conservative radio host at WIBA-AM 1310 in Madison, urged the audience to challenge the "left-ended world view" of the mainstream media "until we kill them," she said, "until they are deader than dead."


At 11:23 AM, Blogger Owen said...

I guess that the mole didn't notice the Libertarian Party booth or hear any of the dozens of people who were frustrated with the GOP for being too liberal.

Yes, it was a bunch of conservatives, which means that most of them were Republicans, but it was by no means a GOP event.

And if you really want to open this can of worms, we can start scrutinizing WEAC, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and other organizations who are "non-partisan" and tax exempt. I sure have seen a lot of WEAC literature that expressly advocates for Democrats...

At 11:31 AM, Blogger Xoff said...

I doubt very much that you have ever seen WEAC spend 501(c)(3) money on politics.

It has a PAC, which does independent expenditures to support or oppose candidates. And it communicates with its membership when it has endorsed candidates.

All perfectly legal, of course.

The description of this wingnut event sounds like a horse of a different feather, as a state legislator once said.

At 12:33 PM, Blogger GWC shadow said...

Xoff you've shown us that you're a liar. Now you've proven that you're a hypocrite. Of anyone who should point out shady PAC activities, you shouldn't talk. (I don't think you want me to list your dirty laundry. Do you?)

At 12:45 PM, Blogger Owen said...

"I doubt very much that you have ever seen WEAC spend 501(c)(3) money on politics."

Actually, they just got sued for doing exactly that, and were forced to pay a bundle in back taxes.

At 2:06 PM, Blogger wordsmith said...

True story.

As seen elsewhere:

"WEAC made a total of $430,000 in contributions to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) that weren’t reported on WEAC’s tax returns..... WEAC is a 501(c)(5) tax-exempt union under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). As a 501(c)(5), WEAC is required to report and pay federal income tax on almost any general revenue funds used for political purposes, including contributions made by the union to political organizations like the DLCC (called 527s, for the section of the IRC under which they are formed.) WEAC’s own 527, the Wisconsin Education Association Council – Political Action Committee (WEAC-PAC), also did not report the DLCC contributions in question on their tax filings."

In the words of WEAC's president:

"I initiated a complete review of WEAC’s tax filings from the last several years, and our review found donations WEAC made to independent issue advocacy organizations in 2000 and 2002 that should have been subject to taxation."

At 2:12 PM, Blogger wordsmith said...

Xoff: "I doubt very much that you have ever seen WEAC spend 501(c)(3) money on politics."

Well, yes, I suppose that would be a factually accurate statement, because WEAC is actually a 501(c)(5), and not a 501(c)(3). Pretty weasel-like form of truthfulness, IMO, but I digress...

WEAC-PAC did not report the DLCC contributions.

WEAC did not report the contributions.

But, WEAC made the contributions to DLCC, to the tune of $430,000?


At 3:13 PM, Blogger George Roberts said...

Well, then, Owen has the answer -- sue Dohnal and his group and get them to pay back taxes. Excellent. Thanks, Owen.

(Off topic -- Wordsmith, you wouldn't happen to live in Merton, would you?)

At 3:36 PM, Blogger wordsmith said...

Nope. According to Google Maps, I am approximately 248 driving miles from Merton.

I did, however, grow up in a certain North Shore village.

But, no more hints for today.

At 4:10 PM, Blogger Xoff said...

Believe it or not, there is a difference between a (c)(3) and a (c)(5). That's why they are under different sections of the tax code.

At 4:13 PM, Blogger Xoff said...

I shouldn't have to say it, but regardless of what WEAC did or didn't two, I'm a little tired of the "so's your old lady" defense.

Two wrongs still don't make a right.

At 4:51 PM, Blogger Owen said...

No, but if you will recall, that was not my defense. My defense was that I was actually at the Future Wisconsin Conference and would not classify it as anything close to a GOP event. If anything, it stirred quite a bit of Conservative frustration with the GOP.

At 6:48 PM, Blogger George Roberts said...

And such a frustration with the media, Owen, that the audience was called upon to kill them? Would that include Ms. McBride, still a newspaper columnist in the MSM? Or just how many hours a week does one have to be in journalistic employment to merit murder? Do you require an 8-hour workday? Or is one a prorated target if working partime in the MSM?

That kind of talk would get Ms. McKenna hauled away at airport security, I would hope, but it was okay at your convention? So much for the kinder, gentler country brought to us by the conservative revolution.

At 9:46 PM, Blogger Dean said...

I attended it also, saw and visited the Libertarian party booth, heard one panel led by Sheriff David Clarke, who, in spite of protestations from the Left, is still a Democrat, and listened to another one which Mikel Holt, a self-confessed independent, sat on. A conservative convention, perhaps, but certainly not a Republican one.

I'm surprised the left takes the phrases about killing so literally. Must never have played sports where killing is mentioned with no one contemplating homicide.

One of the "nuts," I guess.

At 10:05 PM, Blogger Other Side said...

There's a heck of a difference between yelling as a team (for example) ... "Let's kill'em, go Tigers" ... and pointing out individuals or groups of individuals for murder.

I would have thought you knew that difference, Dean. Not very thoughtful in this case.

At 10:15 PM, Blogger Dean said...

Well, let's see, Tim, the writer described it as a "pep rally". Do you really think they were calling for murder?

I would have to question your literary skills, then.

At 10:20 PM, Blogger Theodore Donald Kerabatsos said...

If literary skills are an important criterion, Dohnal the Barbarian is in trouble!

At 10:29 PM, Blogger George Roberts said...

Musings of a man who says he's open-minded about most things -- and a Christian. What sort of education are you cookin' up out there in Waukesha for the missionary students, anyway?

As the question remains unanswered, perhaps you can provide a perspective as a parttime columnist in the MSM, too, Dean. Was Ms. McKenna wishing you "deader than dead" a Christian thing for her to do to you?

At 10:32 PM, Blogger Other Side said...

No need to get snippy.

It was the author's decision to use those words.

I think Ms. McKenna's phrasing was a little more ominous. Big difference!

My literary skills are fine, thank you.

At 11:18 PM, Blogger Dean said...

It was hyperbole. Good grief, in a public place, someone is going to call for someone's murder? I can't believe you guys would take that literally. I can't wait for the next time a liberal speaks in hyperbole.

At 7:57 AM, Blogger publius said...

Xoff - will you then finally drop the "Tommy did it first" defense?

At 9:01 AM, Blogger goofticket said...

And what is going to happen if the State elections board decides that Mark Green CANNOT use any of his federal campaign money in Wisconsin above the $485,000 set by current law?

Think the neocon's are going to whine?

At 9:14 AM, Blogger wordsmith said...

Personally, I don't really tend to give an extraordinary amount of respect to the Dohnals or especially the Tom R's of the world, but I just have to ask the question - Xoff - does this:

"I shouldn't have to say it, but regardless of what WEAC did or didn't two, I'm a little tired of the "so's your old lady" defense."

amount to a tiny little bit of an admission that you were ever so slightly wrong or maybe just a little bit too quick to jump to WEAC's defense with this statement:

Xoff: "I doubt very much that you have ever seen WEAC spend 501(c)(3) money on politics."



At 12:04 AM, Blogger politicsman said...

Jessica McBucher says that it's a good thing that the Fairness Doctrine was repealed? Well, of course she says that. If we still had the Fairness Doctrine she would not be on the air, because every minute she's on the air would have to be balanced off by an ad from a Bucher opponent.


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