Detail, east Portland photo, courtesy Miles Hochstein / Portland Ground.



For old times' sake
The bojack bumper sticker -- only $1.50!

To order, click here.







Excellent tunes -- free! And on your browser right now. Just click on Radio Bojack!






E-mail us here.

About

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 22, 2011 9:44 AM. The previous post in this blog was Saltzman socks it to you again -- but with conditions!. The next post in this blog is Portland's homeless present unique "challenges". Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Archives

Links

Law and Taxation
How Appealing
TaxProf Blog
Mauled Again
Tax Appellate Blog
A Taxing Matter
TaxVox
Tax.com
Josh Marquis
Native America, Discovered and Conquered
The Yin Blog
Ernie the Attorney
Conglomerate
Above the Law
The Volokh Conspiracy
Going Concern
Bag and Baggage
Wealth Strategies Journal
Jim Hamilton's World of Securities Regulation
myCorporateResource.com
World of Work
The Faculty Lounge
Lowering the Bar
OrCon Law

Hap'nin' Guys
Tony Pierce
Parkway Rest Stop
Utterly Boring.com
Along the Gradyent
Dwight Jaynes
Bob Borden
Dingleberry Gazette
The Red Electric
Iced Borscht
Jeremy Blachman
Dean's Rhetorical Flourish
Straight White Guy
HinesSight
Onfocus
Jalpuna
Beerdrinker.org
As Time Goes By
Dave Wagner
Jeff Selis
Alas, a Blog
Scott Hendison
Sansego
The View Through the Windshield
Appliance Blog
The Bleat

Hap'nin' Gals
My Whim is Law
Lelo in Nopo
Attorney at Large
Linda Kruschke
The Non-Consumer Advocate
10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place
A Pig of Success
Attorney at Large
Margaret and Helen
Kimberlee Jaynes
Cornelia Seigneur
Mireio
And Sew It Goes
Mile 73
Rainy Day Thoughts
That Black Girl
Posie Gets Cozy
{AE}
Cat Eyes
Rhi in Pink
Althouse
GirlHacker
Ragwaters, Bitters, and Blue Ruin
Frytopia
Rose City Journal
Type Like the Wind

Portland and Oregon
Isaac Laquedem
StumptownBlogger
Rantings of a [Censored] Bus Driver
Jeff Mapes
Vintage Portland
The Portlander
South Waterfront
Amanda Fritz
O City Hall Reporters
Guilty Carnivore
Old Town by Larry Norton
The Alaunt
Bend Blogs
Lost Oregon
Cafe Unknown
Tin Zeroes
David's Oregon Picayune
Mark Nelsen's Weather Blog
Travel Oregon Blog
Portland Daily Photo
Portland Building Ads
Portland Food and Drink.com
Dave Knows Portland
Idaho's Portugal
Alameda Old House History
MLK in Motion
LoveSalem

Retired from Blogging
Various Observations...
The Daily E-Mail
Saving James
Portland Freelancer
Furious Nads (b!X)
Izzle Pfaff
The Grich
Kevin Allman
AboutItAll - Oregon
Lost in the Details
Worldwide Pablo
Tales from the Stump
Whitman Boys
Misterblue
Two Pennies
This Stony Planet
1221 SW 4th
Twisty
I am a Fish
Here Today
What If...?
Superinky Fixations
Pinktalk
Mellow-Drama
The Rural Bus Route
Another Blogger
Mikeyman's Computer Treehouse
Rosenblog
Portland Housing Blog

Wonderfully Wacky
Dave Barry
Borowitz Report
Blort
Stuff White People Like
Worst of the Web

Valuable Time-Wasters
My Gallery of Jacks
Litterbox, On the Prowl
Litterbox, Bag of Bones
Litterbox, Scratch
Maukie
Ride That Donkey
Singin' Horses
Rally Monkey
Simon Swears
Strong Bad's E-mail

Oregon News
KGW-TV
The Oregonian
Portland Tribune
KOIN
Willamette Week
KATU
The Sentinel
Southeast Examiner
Northwest Examiner
Sellwood Bee
Mid-County Memo
Vancouver Voice
Eugene Register-Guard
OPB
Topix.net - Portland
Salem Statesman-Journal
Oregon Capitol News
Portland Business Journal
Daily Journal of Commerce
Oregon Business
KPTV
Portland Info Net
McMinnville News Register
Lake Oswego Review
The Daily Astorian
Bend Bulletin
Corvallis Gazette-Times
Roseburg News-Review
Medford Mail-Tribune
Ashland Daily Tidings
Newport News-Times
Albany Democrat-Herald
The Eugene Weekly
Portland IndyMedia
The Columbian

Music-Related
The Beatles
Bruce Springsteen
Seal
Sting
Joni Mitchell
Ella Fitzgerald
Steve Earle
Joe Ely
Stevie Wonder
Lou Rawls

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Thursday, September 22, 2011

On Smith's bus, it gets complicated

Yesterday's post about the messy accounting practices at Portland mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith's much heralded Bus Project noted that there are really three different Bus entities. There's a section 501(c)(3) "charitable" organization named Oregon Progress Forum; a section 501(c)(4) organization named New Progressive Network; and a political action committee named Bus PAC. Bus PAC has been fined thousands of dollars by the Oregon secretary of state for, among other things, being unable to account for tens of thousands over the years.

We stumbled across this fact as we tried to figure out how much Smith was being paid by the "Bus Project." That's a question for which we haven't come up with a complete answer. We do know that the 501(c)(4) organization paid Smith compensation of about $33,300 a year in each of the last two years that it's filed financial reports with the IRS -- the most recent being the 12 months that ended on March 31, 2010. (They take their time with government filing, as we noted yesterday, and so the financials for the year ended March 31, 2011 probably won't get to the IRS for several more months.)

A $33,300 salary may not seem like much, but the IRS filings admit that it's for only 10 hours a week of work that the 501(c)(4) got out of Smith. You math majors out there will note that that works out to about $65 an hour. Not exactly lawyer rates, but not shabby for working at a nonprofit, either. And Smith is the only officer or director listed as receiving any compensation from the 501(c)(3) or the 501(c)(4). (He's shown as the principal officer of the 501(c)(4) on its March 2009 return; on the March 2010 return, the principal officer box was left blank.) The other 20 or so folks who serve as directors of those two entities apparently do so without pay, although the 2010 return of the 501(c)(4) mysteriously shows about $75,400 compensation paid to top brass, with only Smith's $33,300 being fully explained.

Is that all Smith gets paid? Maybe. But it's hard to tell from the IRS documents exactly who gets paid for what. The 501(c)(3) organization -- the tax-exempt "charity" that takes tax-deductible contributions from folks -- claims to have no employees whatsoever. But it does pay hefty amounts each year to some people or entities for "contract services" and "contract labor." On the March 2009 statements, for example, the 501(c)(3) showed that it laid out $73,279 for "contract labor," and $330,129 for "contract services." Did any of that go to Smith?

Probably not. Probably, a good chunk of that was paid to the 501(c)(4) Bus entity. On its March 2009 statements, the 501(c)(4) reported $336,898 of "program service revenue" in the form of "reimbursed expenses." Did the 501(c)(4) get paid for performing "contract services" for the 501(c)(3) "charity"? Entirely possible, seemingly likely.

So what did the 501(c)(4) do with the money it took in? Its total revenue for the year was $1.32 million. One thing it did was pay a lot of employees. For the March 2009 year, it showed 66 employees and payroll expenses of $454,642, including Smith's $33,300. It had only $11,800 of "contract labor" expense.

Another thing the 501(c)(4) did was make some huge grants to other "youth vote" type organizations around the country, to the tune of $616,300. These included $210,000 to something called the League of Young Voters in New York, and $175,000 to Progressive Future in Denver.

Unlike 501(c)(3) "charities," 501(c)(4) organizations are allowed to spend substantial money on politics, and the Bus 501(c)(4) did some of that. In the March 2009 report, it showed political expenditures of $41,321. And its volunteers reportedly spent 8,000 hours actively canvassing for state and local candidates in the 2008 elections. (Probably not too many Republicans.) Meanwhile, as noted yesterday, there was a fair amount of cash movement -- in the five-figure range -- between the 501(c)(4) organization and the PAC. Those transactions include circular cash flows that mere mortals can't understand based on the public record. But 501(c)(4) money definitely went to the PAC, and vice versa.

Stepping back to survey the whole picture for a minute, it appears that hundreds of thousands in tax-deductible donations come into the 501(c)(3) "charity," which must stay out of politics; the 501(c)(3) pays hundreds of thousands in "contract services" fees and "expense reimbursements" to the 501(c)(4), which is allowed to get involved in politics; and the 501(c)(4) flows some thousands to the PAC, for whom political campaigns are what it's all about. Now, tax-deductible dollars are not supposed to flow to politicians -- that's the ultimate no-no. Do any of them make that journey up the Bus money ladder? Only the Bus and the IRS could know for sure; from the documents that are available to the public, it's hard to tell.

Now, one thing that's been said in defense of the byzantine array of Bus entities is that everybody does it this way -- that it's a common setup for political activists to set up this type of trio of entities and party on accordingly. We've got to admit that we have no idea whether that's true or not. But the fact that everybody does it doesn't make it legal -- or ethical. (And whether someone who plays that game should be the mayor of Portland is an entirely separate question.)

Which brings us to the website issue. As we mentioned yesterday, the Bus entities for years shared a common website, busproject.org. On that website, donations are solicited for the PAC, among other things. That's a dicey thing for a 501(c)(3) "charity" to be party to. Remember, "charities" aren't supposed to be raising money for political campaigns, which is what PACs do.

The Smith fans out there have pointed out that nowadays, there are two websites -- busproject.org for the 501(c)(4), and busfoundation.org for the "charity." Fair enough. But that doesn't appear to have been the case as late as February of this year, when both entities reported to the IRS that they had but a single site, busproject.org. The wall between the sites seems to be of recent vintage. Here's a screen capture (be patient) from the unified site in April of 2010, showing that it was touting the PAC at that time.

Anyway, for those who would like to sift through the Bus entities' IRS filings, it's easy and free to do so. Set yourself up an account at guidestar.org, and search for the real names of the entities, which we list at the top of this post. With a little effort, you'll have all the information that we do. Or pick another nonprofit that you love or hate; they're pretty much all there.

UPDATE, 5:22 p.m.: The Bus group's defiant nonresponse is here.

Comments (11)

Is that all Smith gets paid? Maybe.

$33,300 a year for 10 hours a week of work is one thing, but how much of his daily activities are expensed from either entity? Food, cellphone, automobile, etc. That could be substantial.

It's not much of a wall between sites... The picture on the front page of the busfoundation.org site is of a bus with the busproject.org URL on it. And all of the email addresses for busfoundation.org are @busproject.org.

Looks like a shell game to me.
Maybe this Jefferson Smith is related to the infamous grifter and gambler, Jefferson "Soapy" Smith of the 19th century. He seems to be doing some of the same slight of hand tricks with the money!
Thanks Jack!

Jack, this is a public service. Jefferson Smith has two choices: (1) provide legitimate explanations for this structure or (2) watch his campaign stop before it starts. Totally fair either way. If only we'd been smart enough to ask questions of the last progressive darling who ran for mayor, we might not have the mess we're in now.

Jack, I suppose you tried to go in the direction of finding just how much Smith took out of all three non-profits beyond wages of $33,330.

Is there anyway to find out if he got reimbursed for vehicle expenses, travel, lodging, food, those extra pizzas, any kind of insurance, life insurance policy, child-care, medical, wife being an employee, what-have-you?

Just like in free enterprise or public employees, that seems to be the real number we need to know.

He's definitely got some 'splainin' to do.

It will be amusing to witness the contortions required.

The reality is that although Jack has been doing excellent work uncovering very serious issues that need to be addressed, the media is not going to pick up on them and they will probably get very little traction.

Once the media falls in love with you, they openly advocate instead of investigate. I think this guy is the media's new boyfriend, now that Sammy broke everyone's heart.

Willamette Week loves him. I'm not sure the rest of the media is equally enamored.

The challenge for mainstream media would be getting the public to pay attention long enough to get the picture.

Here's the executive summary for the reporters out there:

1. The Bus is actually three different companies.

2. The Bus PAC has been fined thousands of dollars for losing track of money and filing its financial statements late.

3. Smith has been paying himself $65 an hour as director, whereas all of the other directors are volunteers.

4. The PAC's financial statements show a series of circular-cash-flow transactions with the 501(c)(4) organization.

5. Questions can be raised about whether the 501(c)(3) tax-deductible "charity" is sufficiently separate from the politically active 501(c)(4) organization and PAC, including on the internet but in other respects as well, to satisfy the tax laws.

Too bad Nigel Jaquiss' hands are tied.

I wonder how many Republicans are involved in these fabulous efforts to build Democracy? "501 (c)(3)" my a**!

Bottom line, if this guy can't keep track of bar dues, personal finances, organizational filings, driving records...do we want him responsible for our $2.5 billion city budget. Um. No.


Sponsors


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2013
Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
Primarius, Pinot Noir 2013
Domaines Bunan, Bandol Rose 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Deer Creek, Pinot Gris 2015
Beaulieu, Rutherford Cabernet 2013
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
King Estate, Pinot Gris, Backbone 2014
Oberon, Napa Cabernet 2013
Apaltagua, Envero Carmenere Gran Reserva 2013
Chateau des Arnauds, Cuvee des Capucins 2012
Nine Hats, Red 2013
Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Roxy Ann, Claret 2012
Januik, Merlot 2012
Conundrum, White 2013
St. Francis, Sonoma Cabernet 2012

The Occasional Book

Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 113
At this date last year: 155
Total run in 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


Clicky Web Analytics