Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tax Free Shenanigans?

Perhaps Eli is not cynical enough, but to the Bunny the small family business climate blog operated by the Idsos has always seemed a curious thing.  True, the world is replete with aging denialists and some of them have incorporated, some for profit, some for retirement funding.  Other strokes for other folks.  Live and let live.  Have a carrot and chill.

Yet the recent revelation about money going into and out of the Heartland Institute gave impetus to another poke into their Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change.  Reading the 990s brings up a curious thing (which had already been noticed by Sourcewatch).

The business supports the Idso family (about $300K/year) but also in 2009 and 2010 (2011 is not yet available), Robert E. Ferguson of the Science and Public Policy Institute, Chris Monckton's home base in the US, to the tune of again, about 300K$/year.  SPPI is not registered as a 501 c3, it appears to be a shell (its DC address is a mailbox in a building devoted to mailboxing, Eli has breakfast around the corner).

The question is why.  Well, the obvious guess is that because donations to the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change are tax free.  Since SPPI is basically a one person operation, and the CSCDGC aka the Idsos house the SPPI web site, there are not many other expenses above a few drinks for Chris when he drops by. That makes donations to support BobF much cheaper.  So why not simply use the Idso family business for SPPI, but in that case, not being a 501 c3 allows messing around in all sorts of lobbying and politics.  

Perhaps the IRS might take a poke?  Shenanigans like that could make the Idos' 501 c3 registration shakey.

UPDATE:  John Mashey had laid most of this out in his "Fakery from SEPP"
“Charity” donations come to CSCDGC from unspecified sources, but the fragmentary data includes ExxonMobil, Scaife, {Lambe, Bradley, and DONORS}, of which the latter group sent money to CSCDGC, but at Ferguson’s address. IRS-7F. The IRS might inquire about that. CSCDGC’s governance is the Idso family. IRS-6G I allege that CSCDGC needs investigation for possible violations of charity rules on governance and finances, IRS-6G, IRS-7F.

Craig Idso is listed as a “science advisor” for SPPI, but, in his role as CSCDGC Treasurer, pays Ferguson as an employee, unusually well for executing a tiny operation.

I allege that CSCDGC and Ferguson violate charity rules on education and research, IRS-0E. The nature of SPPI would have been difficult to reconcile with CSCDGC’s claims to do science.

In any case, SPPI is a fake organization, a front for CSCDGC. The staff is essentially Ferguson, with a cast of the usual “advisors.”
Eli differs only on the last paragraph, CSCDGC appears to be more of a charitable deduction front end for SPPI than visa versa.  Ferguson is a hell of a lot better connected.  SPPI now only maintains it's mailbox office in Haymarket, VA.  According to John, the flow of checks into that hole in the wall are interesting.


J Bowers said...

"the Idsos house the SPPI web site"

Which was registered to GMU marketing graduate Joseph Marshall, last time I looked.

“grassroots marketing experience, especially on the political level of campaigning”

As an aside, have you ever looked into the etymology of the pseudonyms Steven and Goddard?

Anonymous said...

Yawn. so far the only thing we know for certain is that climate scientists are willing to commit felonies for "the cause".

Celery Eater

David B. Benson said...

Eli is not cynical enough.

Anonymous said...

Obviously another apology is due from Peter Gleick. Look at all the trouble he has caused, calling attention to these philanthropic tubes.

Gleick should be hounded by professional ethicists. Where would the poor philanthropic tubes be without the protection of professional ethicists?

Anonymous said...

Well color me stoopid.

Who knew that, the Song and Dance Propaganda Denial head in the sand industry front men, are all it seems, filing in some very questionable tax returns?

"How smooth must be the language of the whites, when they can make right look like wrong, and wrong like right." From Black Hawk, Sauk

"Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money" ~ Cree Indian Proverb

Snapple said...

I wanted to see the Science and Public Policy Institute building because I thought it was strange that they had added footnotes citing Monckton to unfootnoted testimony that Will Happer gave in the Senate.

What kind of Princeton scientists quotes Monckton? At first I thought Happer would be mad, but he linked to "his" testimony as footnoted by SPPI after his testimony.

This gives Monckton credibility, even tho' SPPI had a little comment about what they had done.

I put the SPPI address in my GPS and drove to Haymarket. The address was a mailbox store in a shopping mall. I kept looking at my GPS and at the mailbox store trying to figure out what I had done wrong. I was sure I had not miscopied the address. Finally, I figured out that SPPI was nothing but a mailbox!

I'm only a teacher, but even I knew this was really fishy.

Dr. Mashey says the revelation of the Anonymous Donor will be not merely embarrassing.

I am not saying my guesses for the Anonymous Donor, but I think it's going to be good.

Snapple said...

I have a little post titled "Operation Broken Heartland."

The picture is really cute. What do you guys think of the title?

John Mashey said...

Eli raises an interesting point about who is a front for whom.
CSCDGC has existed longer than SPPI, and is participating in other money flows, some from Heartland.

Putting on my businessman hat, I'd look at CSCDG's Lines of Business.
1) Original CSCDGC / CO2Science, a stable if not very successful product.
2) NIPCC - a new product line with several major releases already, done for a new customer (HI) with newly provided cash.
3) SPPI - a subsidiary asked for by customers, which has a different and broader label, and can be used to "publish" books. Unclear if the Idso's actually make money on the conduit operation, but it keeps customers happy.
Think of this as an acquisition of an extra brand that can be kept separate-looking.

This is like Heartland's LOBs, where of course the funding document breaks out who pays for what, just like any PR firm would.

Snapple said...

So when is the Anonymous Donor going to be unmasked by the MSM?

Next week--March 2--the Virginia Supreme Court rules on the UVA/Mann vs Cuccinelli case.

Snapple said...

It's all very confusing, but depending on what is going on with sending money to foreign entities, maybe Dr. Mashey should send his report to FARA.

"FARA requires any individual or entity who attempts to assist a foreign government, division of a foreign government, foreign political party, or foreign individual with influencing U.S. domestic or foreign policy to register with DOJ as an “agent of a foreign principal.” (Foreign corporations also are treated as foreign principals, but they generally may avoid registering under FARA by registering under the less onerous Lobbying Disclosure Act.) Examples of agents of foreign principals would be individuals who represent foreign governments in lobbying U.S. government officials, public relations consultants who run public advocacy campaigns for foreign governments, and political consultants who advise foreign governments on political strategy."---"Department of Justice launches a wave of Foreign Agents Registration Act ("FARA") Audits" (Covington and Burling, 10-20-10)

John Mashey said...

Snapple: I think that one's marginal, because there is no obvious connection of those folks with foreign governments.

The IRS rules about sending money to foreign non-charities are more straightforward.

EliRabett said...

Eli still thinks RF is the leader of the pack. Let us say you have a stalled 501c3 enterprise, and your funders (say ALEC) comes to you and says, hey, we need to send tax free money to this guy and you can rake off 5-10% overhead and we will continue funding you. Just sayin'

Anonymous said...

"... we need to send tax free money to this guy and you can rake off 5-10% overhead and we will continue funding you."

Oh, gosh, you're such a cynic. To do as you describe would be unethical, almost as unethical as taking steps to discover such a thing were actually happening.

John Mashey said...

I don't think ALEC has anything much to do with this one, although it has tried its had at education.

Read Fake science ... carefully, paying special attention to the wind-down of funds to Frontiers of Freedom, and then windup at CSCDGC, but for SPPI. I was especially thrilled to see the check from Claude Lambe Foundation to CSCDGC, but at Haymarket. Ferguson apparently tried for 501c3, but never filed a 990.

Whether the DONOR money to CSCDGC is coming from Seid or somebody else is not yet known.

But CSCDGC is showing a lot of public that does not show up the the search engines' that track foundations, so it is likely corporate or through HI ... but really, work for hire on NIPCC.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Jay Cadbury, phd.

Poor John Mashey, he did all this work but nobody cares. The IRS is going to be so busy with Solyndra, the won't have time to check on any of John Mashey's "small potatoes" claims.


a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

A little whistlin' in the graveyard, Jaybird. Dude, buy some underarm deodorant. We can smell the fear.

Anonymous said...

Peter Glieck's actions have virtually guarenteed the IRS will not go near HI. Thanks Peter.

Law of unintended consquences, the law the left really does not understand.

Celery Eater

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Sad as it makes me, I have to agree with CE. By playing Miss Marples, he is playing the game of the deniers rather than doing science. Does he really think that those who reject truth to embrace comforting lies will reform once the lies are pointed out to them? Does he really think that if he puts Heartland out of business there won't be 10 liars waiting behind their corpse to take the oily money of Exx-Mob? We are scientists. The only weapon we have is the truth...or we cease being scientists.

John Mashey said...

Yes, I am sad *Peter* did this.
I don't know what *he* was thinking, but if you read "Fake science" carefully, you may infer a much broader approach.

Taking out Heartland was just one element and it is certainly a soft target as they have left a lot of tracks, even without the 2012 items.

I do regret not having written the Fakeducation appendix earlier, as I'd thought about it, but had no idea which topics would hit.

It is yet to be clear whether the Peter's stuff was a plus or minus for mine. I doubt that I will know for months.

Ed Darrell said...

IRS may not be the way to go to enforce this stuff. State attorneys general often have the authority, and duty, to police 501(c)(3) organizations incorporated in their state -- not that they often do, but that it may be worth dropping a letter to the appropriate AG as a heads up to the agency.

Maybe copy the letter to the relevant U.S. attorney. You never know.

Ed Darrell said...

What's IRS got to look at in Solyndra? You're alleging that the bankruptcy courts are incompetent?

Have you even bothered to look at Soyndra's bankruptcy filings, and the proceedings? No crime there, other than the U.S. national policy . . . no, I err: Republican policy, to let U.S. industry suffer in the face of Chinese and German competition. Republicans have a congenital revulsion for any kind of manufacturing, or any capitalism that involves more than shuffling money around and throwing orphans and widows into the snow. On Christmas Eve.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

I don't mean to criticize the work you've done--which is excellent investigative reporting. There is a big difference between shining sunlight on a floor full of cockroaches and skulking around in the dark with them. Frankly, Heartland were so prone to own goals, I dont' know why you'd want to take them out of the equation.

Anonymous said...

Snow Bunny notes:

The IRS put Al Capone in jail.

Anonymous said...

That's OK a_ray even a broken clock (me) is right twice a day.


You are delusional. Go look up some of the "investors" in Solyndra. And ask yourself why manufacturing costs so much in the USA, hint:UNIONS

Celery Eater

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...


Bull puckey. In the heydey of American Manufacturing, unions were stronger and much, much larger. In industries where we are unionized, we are competitive with other industrialized nations.

Finally, look where the money has flowed the last 30 years--coincident with the decline of US manufacturing. I guarantee you it is not to the workers.

I'm sorry, but that is just flat stupid.

Anonymous said...


If you do not think Labor Unions have significantly contributed to higher labor costs in manufacturing you are the one being stupid.

Celery Eater

John Mashey said...

Hi Ed ...
State AGs are certainly relevant, but I figured to start with the IRS where I knew the rules better.

IL AG for Heartland: seems plausible.

AZ AG for CSCDGC: I'm not sure, sicne they don't seem to be registered as charity there, and I don't yet know what that means.

VA AG for SEPP/Singer. Oops, that's Ken Cuccinelli.
Of course, that's a Curious Connection with yet another topic of interest.

Of course, if there IL, AZ or VA residents who might file complaints, they are welcome to do so, given that everything in my report was 100% public, although nontrivial to find and integrate.

J Bowers said...

"If you do not think Labor Unions have significantly contributed to higher labor costs in manufacturing you are the one being stupid."

And if you don't think that widespread abuse of the labour force inevitably led to the spread of Labour Unions...

Anonymous said...

"And if you don't think that widespread abuse of the labour force inevitably led to the spread of Labour Unions..."

As if that abuse could exist today. Local, State, and Federal Regulations have all caught up all unions do today is negotiate unsustainable benefits and pension packages and reduce the over all number of jobs available for everyone else.

Unions eliminate freedom of choice. In most instances a person must join a union or not work at that plant or place of business.

Pay is not based on perforomance it is based on time served.

Unions are arcane relics of the past and should be disbanded.

Celery Eater

J Bowers said...

"As if that abuse could exist today."

Big thumbs up for regulations and unions, then?

"Unions eliminate freedom of choice."

For who? Ye reap what ye sow, and it's not as if history doesn't teach the consequences. Look up secessio plebis.