Documents Show Hollywood Right-Wingers Like Gary Sinise Were Acting Shady About Their Political Donations
Before Republican Senator Ted Cruz flew to Los Angeles to speak to Hollywood’s secretive right-wing organization, Friends of Abe (FOA), Cruz suggested to the Hollywood Reporter that IRS’s reluctance to immediately ordain FOA as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit tax-free charity was a left-wing government conspiracy. (IRS exemption requirements for 501(c)(3) charities can be found here.)
The online Hollywood Reporter quotes Cruz on 2/20/2014 saying, “FOA should respond to the IRS as it would any McCarthyite request for information.” Invoking Joseph McCarthy in the negative seems particularly odd for extreme right-winger Ted Cruz. Other prominent FOA members defend McCarthy as a heroic victim of traitorous communists who pose as being members of the Democrat Party. Ann Coulter, a Friends of Abe darling who spoke at one of its events, wrote a book called Slander that defends McCarthy as the ultimate patriot and insults McCarthy’s opponents, who included the five-star General George Marshall, as traitors.
What is Friends of Abe anyway? Founded by actor Gary Sinise, prominent FoAers include Clint Eastwood, Kelsey Grammer, Jerry Bruckheimer, Patricia Heaton, Robert Duvall, and David Mamet and perhaps as many as 1,500 total members. Friends of Abe, or FOA as the group is known among members, had been seeking nonprofit charity status since early 2011. Jeremy Boreing, an apparent documentary filmmaker who serves as the public operative for Sinise, went on a media blitz in late January and early February, decrying the IRS for purposely withholding the group’s request for 501(c)(3) status as part of a program to “target” and “harass” conservatives.
Conservatives claiming “victimhood” at the hands of the IRS has become an overused meme. On the Fox News Megyn Kelly show, The Kelly File, reporter Trace Gallagher proclaimed, “The group is called ‘Friends of Abe’ named after Abraham Lincoln, and it’s made up of 1,500 conservative members of the entertainment industry. They gather for things like meals, drinks, and to learn about the political process. It is now seeking 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, so that donations could be tax deductible just like some progressive groups. Getting the exemption would prohibit the group from partisan activity. Now ‘Friends of Abe’ acknowledges having speakers like Karl Rove and Herman Cain, but they deny having a political agenda. ‘Friends of Abe’ says it doesn’t just suspect they were being targeted by the IRS, they say they were told they’re being targeted by the IRS.”
According to Boreing (on “The Kelly File”), “We understand through our attorneys that our agent at the IRS who was handling our file, specifically said we had been targeted on the BOLO (Be On the Lookout) list. So I think that probably the reason we’re being targeted is we filed as a conservative educational fellowship.”
On his own website, Boreing added, “The struggle for 501(c)(3) status went on for nearly three years with no answer from the IRS…. We’re not advocating for anything. We’re not trying to accomplish any objective politically or even from a Hollywood business point of view.”
Apparently FOA’s media blitz worked. According to the March 16 online New York Times, the IRS caved in and gave the group full 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.
It turns out the IRS was played. FOA had been gaming the system all along.
In its impatience with the IRS review process, FOA began telling its members that it had full 501(c)(3) status as early as 2011, in order to solicit donations. In December 2011, Gary Sinise sent out an email to FOA members trumpeting the status. From that point on, all members were continually reassured that their donations were fully tax deductible and that FOA had full 501(c)(3) status.
FOA even used the allure of nonprofit status to sell tables at an August 2012 dinner with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, comedian Dana Carvey, and country star Larry Gatlin. Yes, these odd ducks all appeared together … welcome to the surreal world that is Friends of Abe.
Further inside scoops about Friends of Abe are detailed in the upcoming book, Republican Party Animal: The ‘Bad Boy of Holocaust History’ Blows the Lid Off of Hollywood’s Secret Right-Wing Underground (Feral House), which tells the story of the rise of “David Stein,” who became a preeminent West Coast GOP organizer and Friends of Abe activist, only to be outed by an ex-girlfriend (and FOA member) as having been the notorious “Jewish Holocaust denier” David Cole back in the early 1990s.
When the story of the Friends of Abe/IRS feud broke, Cole/Stein forwarded to us documents proving that FOA had been raising money with a false claim of 501(c)(3) status at least three years before they bullied the IRS into actually giving it to them. FOA was running a scam, a scam that the IRS, pilloried by Fox News accusations of “targeting” conservatives, was apparently willing to overlook when it granted the status for real last week.
Far from being victims, FOA was perpetrating a fraud, probably an illegal one.
There is also evidence that Sinise was funneling FOA money through his supposed “veterans” charity. According to the site CitizenAudit.org, in 2010, when Sinise got approval for his own nonprofit, the Gary Sinise Foundation, he listed “Abe’s Pal” as a secondary DBA. “Abe’s Pal” was the name through which FOA solicited money.
In the Sinise Foundation’s filings with the IRS, it lists its very specific goals: “To serve the nation by honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need,” adding that the nonprofit will provide “relief for wounded warriors, entertainment for service members and their families, school supplies for children where U.S. troops are deployed, and scholarships for veterans.”
If Sinise was indeed funneling money from a partisan GOP organization through his foundation, that may very well be another instance of criminal activity, along with the fraudulent claim that FOA had 501(c)(3) status.
Boreing’s claim that FOA has no political objective and engages in no political advocacy is torpedoed by emails from Sinise and the FOA main office. According to source David Cole/Stein, outright solicitations for donations by politicians were generally kept out of FOA emails and reserved for the secret meetings, FOA did indeed send out an email on September 16, 2010 (less than two months before the midterm elections), asking members to visit the “Young Guns” GOP PAC fundraising website. In the email, FOA unambiguously stated, “America is standing at a critical crossroads, and Young Guns candidates give America the best opportunity to move our country in the right direction.”
A September 9, 2010 email from FOA invited members to an event co-sponsored by the California Republican Party and the Hollywood Congress of Republicans. The event was titled “A conservative’s guide to getting involved in the 2010 political process.” It was held at Galpin Ford in North Hills, California.
FOA claims not to have a political bent, but a look at some of the speakers who appeared during David Cole/Stein’s five-year tenure with the group might suggest otherwise. Between summer 2009 and April 2013, the speakers included Ann Coulter, GOP governor Scott Walker, Rush Limbaugh, Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, former GOP Senator Jim DeMint, anti-immigration Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Fox News host Greg Gutfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Antonin Scalia, Dennis Prager, Paul Ryan, GOP Governor Brian Sandoval, Rick Santorum, Mark Levin, Charles Krauthammer, GOP Congressman Darrell Issa, Herman Cain, GOP Congressman Allen West, Dick Cheney, GOP Senator Marco Rubio, GOP Governor Tim Pawlenty, GOP Congressman Mike Rogers, GOP Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Karl Rove, David Horowitz, GOP Congressman Thad McCotter, John Boehner, conservative talk-show host Hugh Hewitt, conservative talk-show host Larry Elder, Newt and Callista Gingrich, GOP Congressmen Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy, GOP Governor Rick Perry, Liz Cheney, GOP Senator John Thune, GOP pollster Frank Luntz, RNC Chairman Michael Steele, GOP Senator Mark Kirk, and conservative columnist Shelby Steele.
Does this appear like FOA is simply an “educational” institution, with no partisan or political agenda?
FOA successfully gamed the IRS. Will the IRS show any interest in investigating the fact that from 2011 onward FOA illegally raised money by claiming a status it didn’t have?
After taking leadership of the Missouri Republican Party last weekend, conservative firebrand and perennial candidate Ed Martin offered words to his supporters that could pretty much sum up his entire approach to politics.
“We are surrounded, but as the great Marine Chesty Puller noted, being surrounded simplifies the situation. We can advance in any direction,” Martin wrote — in typically militant language — in a letter to supporters Tuesday. “Mount up.”
Martin might seem a strange choice to lead a state party that recently lost the most winnable Senate race in the country because the voters deemed its nominee too far right.
Martin is, after all, from the same cultural conservative, anti-establishment, Tea Party wing of the Missouri GOP as former Senate candidate Todd Akin. And Martin lost his own race in November, for Missouri attorney general, by a similarly wide margin as Akin.
Despite that backdrop, and other baggage from his often-tumultuous career in and around Missouri politics, Martin on Saturday narrowly won a vote of the Missouri Republican State Committee to unseat Missouri Republican Party Chairman David Cole.
The news stunned many in Missouri politics. Some say Martin’s aggressive, sometimes abrasive brand of conservatism — along with two high-profile campaign failures of his own — make him an unlikely leader of a party that lately has had problems both with keeping the peace internally and winning statewide elections.
“He is controversial within the party. … He’s made a lot of enemies,” said Ken Warren, a political scientist at St. Louis University with Democratic Party ties. “I’m very surprised that the Republican Party would pick someone to chair the party who is so divisive.”
If so, those Republicans for the most part aren’t breaking ranks, despite the narrow 34-32 Republican committee vote.
Among Cole’s supporters was U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. Asked about Martin’s victory, Blunt on Tuesday issued a one-sentence written statement: “I congratulate Ed and look forward to working with him.”
That was the double-edged sword that conservatives found themselves holding last year when they boosted Akin past two better-funded GOP establishment candidates to win the Senate nomination against U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., then considered the most vulnerable senator in the nation.
While Akin’s religiously infused conservatism and no-exceptions opposition to abortion sat well with his supporters, it cut the other way after Akin’s comments in August about “legitimate rape” and pregnancy. The comments — rooted in an old anti-abortion movement myth that rape cannot cause pregnancy — created a national firestorm and, by most accounts, cost Akin the election.
That’s not Martin’s account, however. In an interview Tuesday, he argued that the lesson from Akin’s loss wasn’t that he was too conservative but that he was underfunded.
“What we know in retrospect … is that the Republican Party was outspent by $20 million,” Martin said. He acknowledged that the reason Akin couldn’t raise as much money as McCaskill was “partly from what happened” with the rape comments.
Martin’s tenure in Missouri politics has often been controversial. A former commercial lawyer, he was former Republican Gov. Matt Blunt’s chief of staff in 2007 when he fired Scott Eckersley, a lawyer under him, after Eckersley warned that the administration was improperly destroying email records.
ST. CHARLES - Supporters of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul took control of St. Charles County’s second-try Republican caucus Tuesday night, winning all of its delegates to later stages of the state GOP’s presidential selection process.
The Paul campaign used superior organization to get its people to the meeting at the St. Charles Convention Center. More than 900 people took part overall.
Brent Stafford, the Paul activist who chaired the caucus, said Paul’s supporters were “inspired by his positions on constitutional government and sound fiscal policy’’ and his consistency on issues over the years.
GOP State Chairman David Cole had scheduled the do-over session after the county GOP’s original caucus March 17 disbanded amid boisterous disputes over rules. Two Paul supporters, including Stafford, were arrested at that event.
The session Tuesday night was comparatively calm, although there was some confusion and arguments over procedure at some points.
Paul’s caucus victory occurred even though he got less than 13 percent of the vote in the county in the nonbinding GOP presidential primary in February. Paul is far behind front-runner Mitt Romney in national delegate totals.
Fesler and other Santorum backers had hoped to keep Santorum supporters together to advance their own slate even though their candidate had dropped out of the race earlier in the day.
The goal, some said, was to make sure socially conservative issues would be in the national GOP platform.
But Fesler said there was no question their numbers dropped because of Santorum’s announcement.
Buddy Hardin, a Romney campaign leader in the county, took a philosophical view, noting that Romney is now the presumptive nominee given Santorum’s departure from the race.
Cole was supported for chairman by the campaign organizations for Romney, Santorum and Newt Gingrich. The Gingrich campaign did not make a major effort to get people to show up.
The caucus was the last in a series of 142 such meetings across the state.
Cole, from Cassville in southwest Missouri, began the meeting as temporary chairman. He then oversaw the election of the caucus chairman, Stafford.
Cole assumed the temporary chairman role from the county GOP committee chairman, Eugene Dokes, whose handling of the March 17 session was sharply criticized.
Cole said in advance that video and audio recording would be allowed. A ban on recording devices by county-based organizers had been a major point of dispute on March 17.