White nationalists raise millions as “charities”
Leaders of groups say they hope Trump’s win will bolster donations
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!”