IRS Revokes Nonprofit Status Of Veterans Group For Hosting Trump On Battleship…
The Internal Revenue Service revoked the nonprofit status of the veterans benefit organization that hosted and sold tickets to a foreign policy speech by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump aboard a retired U.S. battleship, The Associated Press has learned. The group’s endorsement of Trump at the event also could raise legal problems under campaign finance laws.
Trump’s campaign did not respond to questions from the AP about whether it was aware that the IRS had revoked the nonprofit status of the Veterans for a Strong America, which sold tickets to Trump’s event for up to $1,000 as a fundraiser. The IRS issued its decision Aug. 10, citing the group’s failure to file any tax returns for three consecutive years, according to IRS records reviewed by the AP.
The group’s chairman, Joel Arends of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, said the organization was appealing the IRS decision. He would not provide AP with copies of any tax returns, which would show how much money the group has collected over the years and how it spends its money. By law, such records are supposed to be available to the general public for inspection.
“We disagree with the IRS determination letter,” Arends told the AP in an interview. He appeared alongside Trump on Tuesday night on the ship.
Regardless of its legal status as a nonprofit, Veterans for a Strong America’s endorsement of Trump on the deck of the USS Iowa may also raise campaign finance questions. Under federal law, corporations are restricted to donating $2,700 either in cash or in-kind contributions to a campaign. But the event, which Veterans for a Strong America paid for, involved 850 attendees, putting the cost at roughly $11,000.
U.S. law also generally prohibits candidates from coordinating their campaign activities with outside groups, and prohibits corporations from spending more than a minimal amount announcing their endorsements.