White na­tion­al­ists raise mil­lions as “char­i­ties”

Lead­ers of groups say they hope Trump’s win will bol­ster do­na­tions

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Michael Kunzelman

ba­ton rouge, la.» The fed­eral gov­ern­ment has al­lowed four groups at the fore­front of the white na­tion­al­ist move­ment to reg­is­ter as char­i­ties and raise more than $7.8 mil­lion in tax-de­ductible do­na­tions over the past decade, ac­cord­ing to an As­so­ci­ated Press re­view.

Al­ready em­bold­ened by Don­ald Trump’s pop­u­lar­ity, group lead­ers say they hope the pres­i­dent-elect’s vic­tory helps them raise even more money and gives them a larger plat­form for spread­ing their ide­ol­ogy.

With benev­o­lent-sound­ing names such as the Na­tional Pol­icy In­sti­tute and New Cen­tury Foun­da­tion, the tax-ex­empt groups present them­selves as ed­u­ca­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions and use donors’ money to pay for web­sites, books and con­fer­ences to fur­ther their ide­ol­ogy. The money also has per­son­ally com­pen­sated lead­ers of the four groups.

New Cen­tury Foun­da­tion head Jared Tay­lor said his group raises money for the benefit of the “white race,” a mis­sion tax­pay­ers are in­di­rectly sup­port­ing with the group’s sta­tus as a 501(c)(3) non­profit. The IRS rec­og­nized it, the Charles Mar­tel So­ci­ety, the Na­tional Pol­icy In­sti­tute and VDare Foun­da­tion as char­i­ties more than a decade ago.

Samuel Brun­son, a tax law pro­fes­sor at Loy­ola Univer­sity in Chicago, noted the non­profit sta­tus gives these groups a ve­neer of le­git­i­macy and re­spectabil­ity.

“It should make peo­ple un­com­fort­able that the gov­ern­ment is sub­si­diz­ing groups that es­pouse val­ues that are in­com­pat­i­ble with most Amer­i­cans,” he said.

The IRS has tried to weed out non­profit ap­pli­cants that merely spread pro­pa­ganda.

In 1978, the agency re­fused to grant tax-ex­empt sta­tus to the Na­tional Al­liance, a neo-Nazi group that pub­lished an anti-Semitic news­let­ter. And in 1994, a court up­held the de­nial of tax-ex­empt sta­tus for the Na­tion­al­ist Move­ment, a Mis­sis­sippi-based white na­tion­al­ist group.

Some tax ex­perts said the IRS is still feel­ing the sting from con­ser­va­tive crit­ics over its 2013 con­ces­sion that it un­fairly gave ex­tra scru­tiny to tea party groups seek­ing tax ex­emp­tions.

“I don’t think they’re feel­ing very brave right now,” said Ellen Aprill, a tax law pro­fes­sor at Loy­ola Law School in Los Angeles.

IRS spokesman Michael Dobzin­ski said he can’t com­ment on in­di­vid­ual non­prof­its.

Louisiana State Univer­sity law pro­fes­sor Philip Hack­ney, a for­mer IRS at­tor­ney, said the agency re­ceives tens of thou­sands of ap­pli­ca­tions an­nu­ally and doesn’t have the re­sources to scru­ti­nize many of them.

“A lot of ap­pli­ca­tions fly through,” Hack­ney said. “They’re look­ing for easy ways to sort things out and kind of give rub­ber stamps.”

New Cen­tury Foun­da­tion, a Vir­ginia-based non­profit, has raised more than $2 mil­lion since 2007 and op­er­ates the Amer­i­can Re­nais­sance on­line mag­a­zine, which touts a phi­los­o­phy that it’s “en­tirely nor­mal” for whites to want to be a ma­jor­ity race. Tay­lor, a Yale-ed­u­cated, self­de­scribed “race re­al­ist,” said his group, founded in 1994, abides by all laws gov­ern­ing non­prof­its.

“We cer­tainly did not con­ceal our in­ten­tions,” Tay­lor said. “I think we are ed­u­ca­tional in pre­cisely the terms that Congress de­fined.”

Tay­lor, whose tax fil­ing says he re­ceived $65,000 in com­pen­sa­tion in 2015, said he isn’t rais­ing money to en­rich him­self or his group.

“We hold it in trust for the white race,” he said.

In a 2012 ar­ti­cle, Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia business pro­fes­sor Alex Reed ar­gued the IRS “can and must” re­voke the New Cen­tury Foun­da­tion’s char­i­ta­ble sta­tus. Reed said the agency’s lax en­force­ment al­lowed other groups — in­clud­ing ones he la­beled as white na­tion­al­ist, anti-gay, anti-im­mi­grant or Holo­caust de­niers — to qual­ify for tax breaks un­der the guise of op­er­at­ing ed­u­ca­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions.

The Mon­tana-based Na­tional Pol­icy In­sti­tute is run by Richard Spencer, who pop­u­lar­ized the term “al­ter­na­tive right” about a decade ago. The so-called alt-right is a fringe move­ment that has been de­scribed as a mix of racism, white na­tion­al­ism and pop­ulism.

Spencer’s group raised $442,482 in tax-de­ductible con­tri­bu­tions from 2007 through 2012. More re­cent fundrais­ing figures for the group aren’t avail­able in on­line tax returns, but Spencer said Trump’s can­di­dacy al­ready has boosted his group’s fundrais­ing.

Spencer hosted a post­elec­tion con­fer­ence in Wash­ing­ton that ended with au­di­ence mem­bers mim­ick­ing Nazi salutes af­ter Spencer shouted, “Hail Trump, hail our peo­ple, hail vic­tory!”

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