Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Adjusting to Life as a 527

Now would be a good time to review Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3):

(c) List of exempt organizations


(3) Corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in subsection (h)), and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.

(Emphasis and super-duper emphasis mine).

The Center for Independent Media is a 501(c)(3) org.

Let's go back and have a look-see at what two of those soon-to-be Minn-"dependent" alumni had to say regarding their editorial direction from the higher ups. Priesmeyer:

I feel like we were hired to be nothing more than shills for their platform under the guise of a mission focused on creating journalism that was "independent" and for the "common good." If I had been told I was a shill for the Democrats, I never would've written for the site. I guess that's why the CIM told editors and writers that our job was to write about major issues, like the economy and housing, that were important to local readers.

Freelancer Britt Robson:

However, Robson — who writes about arts for MinnPost and sports for The Rake — was caustic in his view that MnIndy's Capitol overlords. He says CIM's national staff was less interested in the organization's professed mission — "a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that operates an independent online news network in the public interest" — than boosting the party of Barack Obama.

"I was working with them fairly closely during the Republican convention and privy to interoffice emails," Robson explains. "The type of things non-local editors were into were very party-race stories, particularly stories that embarrassed Republicans and promoted Democrats."

Oh man, would I like to see those emails. I wonder if the IRS would be interested too.

Oh, here's one:

Memo to Center for Independent Media employees

Hi, everyone. I know the last 24 hours have been a lot to think about. We also understand that one of the the assets of online media is that everyone knows lots of reporters, and has established very close relationships with their media, both local and national. I need to ask you all to please not respond to media questions about the CIM and our restructuring process.
If you receive any calls or emails, please forward that information on to me so I can direct inquiries to the proper channel. It is imperative that you do not talk to the media yourself about this issue. Any violation of this will be grounds for immediate dismissal.

Consider the barn door closed! Hey! Where'd all the cows go?

And then there's this story, where two management-level CIMers in the home office can't even get their alibi story straight; perhaps the impetus for the above leaked memo:

"We're in economic hard times. We're a non-profit that's dependent on philanthropy," [ CIM's national editorial director Jefferson] Morley said. "We gotta plan for the future just like everybody else."

Two paragraphs later:

But Colorado Independent publisher David Bennahum said the decision to reorganize was made before the economic crisis, though he said he couldn't pinpoint the exact time the decision was made.

My guess it was right around the time all the major news organizations called the election for Obama.

There'll be more to this story, I'm sure.

(Oh please God let there be more.)

DISCLAIMER: Lest anyone think I'm being a - ahem - bully for insinuating the whole loss of tax exempt status thing, it should be noted that the Minn-dependent and it's sister organization has not been above such things in the past.

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