Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Shouldn't Law-Maker Candidates Obey the Law Themselves?
by Mark Baker
Something unique happened yesterday in that I received an anonymous letter in the mail that had no return address, or sender information. Inside I found a five-page document that was titled: "Current Law-Maker Supporting Possible Law-Breaker?" The info in question deals with Cheryl Krapf-Haddock, one of the Republican candidates for Michigan's 71st State House Seat along with Laurie Raines, Deb Shaugnessy and Brett Slocum.
The crux of the information sent to me states that Ms. Haddock, as Executive Director of the 'Child Abuse Prevention Council of Eaton County,' appears to be in violation of the US Code, Tax Laws and the 'Hatch Act,' regarding section 501(c) 3, tax-exempt, non-profit agencies such as the one she runs. Following is the contents of the letter I received:
"Current Law-Maker Supporting Possible Law-Breaker?"
Is Cheryl Krapf-Haddock breaking the law? Is State Representative Rick Jones' reputation at stake by supporting her? Cheryl Krapf-Haddock has repeatedly used her charitable, tax-exempt, 501(c)3 organization's position as "Executive Director" to promote herself for a partisan political campaign, which appears to violate current laws.
According to the US Code, Tax Laws AND The Hatch Act, 501(c)3, tax-exempt, non-profit community action agencies like the 'The Child Abuse Prevention Council of Eaton County,' which Krapf-Haddock heads up are STRICTLY PROHIBITED from supporting, engaging-in, or allowing staff to participate-in PARTISAN political elections. Violations for breaking these laws can be quite serious. Non-Profit, tax-exempt, organization's staff and members, particularly 'Executive Directors, CAN NOT use their position or title to affect the outcome of any partisan election or raise money for a partisan candidate's campaign.
Cheryl Krapf-Haddock identifies herself to media sources, in local newspapers and in her political campaign materials as "The Executive Director for the 'Child Abuse Prevention Council'" a non-profit 501(c)3. Krapf-Haddock has made it very clear to the general public that she is running as a "Republican" for a partisan office while actively employed and paid by this publicly-funded, tax-exempt, community action agency. According to the law, that may very well be a violation:
United States Code, Title 42, Chapter 66, Sub-chapter IV, Section 5043:
"...(b) Prohibition on program identification. (1) Programs assisted under this chapter shall not be carried-on in a manner involving the use of funds, the provision of services, or the employment or assignment of personnel in a manner supporting or resulting-in the identification of such programs with-
(A) any partisan or non-partisan political activity associated with a candidate, or a contending faction or group, in an election for public or party office:..."
Also, under the IRS Tax Code, it is clear that 501(c)3's cannot engage-in or support partisan politicians or be used to influence the outcome of an election, as appears to be going on with this candidate flagrantly using their job title and the organization's name throughout her campaign. IRS Penalties may include "revocation of tax-exempt status" and possible criminal penalties for the organization and/or those involved.
According to Anita Lichtblau, Esq., CAPLAW's Update, "For those of you new to the world of Community Action and 501(c)3 tax-exempt organizations, as well as those with many years in the field, keeping track of the rules relating to election and campaign activity is never easy. But understanding them is nonetheless is critical... Here's a list of Do's and Don'ts to steer you through the rules: Don't run for office in a partisan election if you are an Executive Director of a CAA taking a leave of absence doesn't solve the problem; the candidate must resign from his or her position... Do not speak on behalf of the CAA, or use the name of the CAA when supporting or opposing any candidate..." Krapf-Haddock HAS NOT resigned from her Executive Director position, continues to use her non-profit title and cites her active involvement in this organization, repeatedly for partisan campaign purposes to promote herself. Krapf-Haddock has actively sought and received the support of a current law-maker in the midst of this situation, both ignoring te law.
The 'Hatch Act' does cover 501(c)3 public non-profits. In such cases, according to Eleanor A Evans, Esq., found at: www.caplaw.org "What does the Hatch Act Prohibit? Being a candidate for public office in a partisan election; Using official authority or influence to interfere with, or affect results of an election or nomination for office. If the offense/s are serious enough to warrant dismissal from employment, employer must either: Dismiss employee; or forfeit its federal funding in an amount equal to two years of the employees salary.
The Hatch Act has been enforced against two such organizations in recent years, in one case a county outreach coordinator ran for county legislator and despite warnings, continued their candidacy and faced the consequences. 501(c)3's are already prohibited by tax code from engaging in political activity in support-of or in opposition-to a candidate for office, 26 U.S.C. 501(c)3...Federal and State Election Laws impose additional rules on campaign activities of individuals..."
According to IRS Regulations: "To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)3. In addition, it may not be an action organization; may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates."
In another section of the IRS Code under "Political Activity": If any of the activities (whether or not substantial) of your organization consist of participating-in, or intervening-in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition-to) any candidate for public office, your organization will not qualify for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)3. Such participation or intervention includes the publishing or distribution-of statements. Whether your organization is participating or intervening, directly, or indirectly, in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition-to) any candidate for public office depends upon all the facts and circumstances of each case.
The law is clear, Haddock's campaign materials are clear and so is her support by a current lawmaker. Who's breaking the law and jeopardizing this community organization's future to run as a 'Law-Maker?'
Having served as an officer of two area non-profit organizations myself, I am well aware of the very tight line they must adhere to regarding non-partisanship and political campaigns. We always insured that we were beyond reproach in these areas. I am not an attorney, and do not claim to have any expertise in this area, but given the apparent clear-cut nature of the documentation I was sent, I would hope that this could be looked at by a legal expert to determine if violations have indeed occurred within the Krapf-Haddock Camp.
Many Eaton County Republicans, especially those who have been active in the County Republican Party, have been collectively scratching their heads as to why Rick was so eager to back Haddock early-on, appearing prominently in her mailers, and placing her signs with his? Of course, when questioned Rick was always quick to state that he 'wasn't going to make ANY candidate endorsements for the 71st House Seat before the Primary. Well, that statement proved to be as trustworthy as a promissory note from a crack-dealer as Rick last week formally endorsed: DRUM ROLL.... Cheryl Krapf Haddock! That was about as big a shocker as learning that 'Bears actually do crap in the woods.'
Who knows why Rick Jones championed Cheryl Haddock's campaign, my thoughts, for what they're worth, are that Rick wished to have a 'rubber-stamp' in his old seat as he goes to the Senate, but I could be wrong; maybe he just simply wanted to irritate and confound the Eaton County GOP, as well as thousands of Eaton County Republican Constituents (you know, the people he's supposed to be working for instead of Special Interests)? Why else would this man turn his back on a women who had dedicated many years of her professional life to him, both when he was with the Eaton County Sheriff's Department, as well as the last few years as his Constituent Services Aide? A women who dug-in like an Alabama Tic on issues and concerns of the constituents of the 71st District; a women who he knows full WILL NOT compromise on ethical issues, nor 'play along' with the numerous games that are played behind closed doors in Lansing; a women who as the 'Homeland Security Grant Coordinator within the Michigan State Police, uncovered numerous funding violations and gross misappropriation of Federal Monies, and refused to knuckle-under to threats by those who were behind these acts.
This women is Laurie Raines, a dedicated mother of three and wife of Eaton County Sheriff Mike Raines, and a lady I've known since High School. Laurie is a true Constitutionalist Conservative who is a REAL 2nd Amendment Advocate, whose had a concealed-carry permit for over 20 years (and can outshoot many men), been an ACTIVE GOP member and officer and isn't ashamed to proudly state she's behind the TEA Party Movement to take-back our government and restore our Constitutional Republic. Rick Jones knows full well that Laurie Raines is by far, the most qualified, dedicated, uncompromising and educated candidate who has absolutely established beyond any doubt that she will not 'go along to get along' with the Lansing 'Play-Makers.' And I believe that it's for these reasons, Rick Jones fears Laurie Raines taking his old House Seat, because she knows him better than anybody else and he knows she will not partake in 'Business-As-Usual.'
Given the fact that Rick Jones has publicly endorsed Haddock and is a 'Lawmaker' himself, perhaps he should take the lead in looking into this and act accordingly. As our parents used to teach us: "It's NEVER too late to do the right thing." Cheryl Haddock should immediately withdraw from the race and take the steps necessary to save her 501(c)3 organization, and Rick Jones should endorse the candidate he knows full well is the best qualified to represent the people of the
71st District: Laurie Raines.
'We the People' are watching Mr. Jones...