Remember Friends of Abe? They were the group who complained last month that the IRS was being mean to them by doing its job, probing to make sure they were really organized for a legitimate tax exempt purpose.
After their big public whinefest, the IRS granted them tax-exempt status. Status, by the way, that enables their star-studded member list to deduct any and all contributions made to their organization.
It turns out that they were collecting donations for the past three years by presenting themselves as something they weren't.
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.
Oh yes, that's an added bonus. One of their most active members was a Republican Holocaust denier. The Wrap:
According to media reports, especially a lengthy, breathless piece in The Guardian, David Stein has been a fixture in right-wing Hollywood circles in recent years, bringing together “right-wing congressmen, celebrities, writers and entertainment industry figures …for shindigs, closed to outsiders, where they could scorn liberals and proclaim their true beliefs.”
And this, from the Guardian story, concerning his "recantation" of the Holocaust denial part.
The recanting was fake, he said. Cole today still challenges established Holocaust scholarship, including the certainty about Nazi gas chambers. "The best guess is yes, there were gas chambers" he says. "But there is still a lot of murkiness about the camps. I haven't changed my views. But I regret I didn't have the facility with language that I have now. I was just a kid," he said this week.
Stein/Cole was part of the glue that bound Friends of Abe together, at least until recently. When Stein/Cole had a falling out with a friend, he spilled the beans.
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.
Before his involvement with Friends of Abe, Stein/Cole was the head of a group called Republican Party Animals. Like most smartass, hip conservatives, he has a libertarian bent and is forever the victim of someone, real or imagined.
When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, Cole sensed opportunity. Inspired by the writer PJ O'Rourke's brand of rollicking, liquor-fuelled conservativism, he said he launched Republican Party Animals, a networking circle for libertarians and social conservatives which promised spice – "scantily-clad women, drink, fun, loud music" – but not too much. There would be no cocaine or illegality.
"Do you like your conservative politics mixed with a healthy dose of whiskey, fine cigars and kickass rock n' roll?" its website asked. "Do you live in a city filled with morons wearing Che T-shirts as they mindlessly cling to tattered, faded 2008 'Hope and Change' posters? Then WELCOME, friend – this is the group for you!" Blog posts assailed Obama, Occupy protestors and alleged anti-semites.
Those names -- Gaffney, Kelly and McCotter -- keep cropping up in association with slimeballs and criminals. I wonder why (not really).
Go read the rest of the AlterNet article, if only to know more about those guys collecting your money at the box office and the iTunes store. As for the IRS, it's time to kick Darrell Issa's bad ass off that committee by taking back the House, and then spiffing up procedures and regulations to set things right with regard to these non-profit organizations.
There is no way this group should have tax-exempt status. Now that they do, they're going to ratf*ck all of us and send us the bill.