The Kansas Meadowlark

August 24, 2007
(updated Sep 2, 2007)


How can the Kansans for Consumer Privacy Protection "non-profit" legally give $34,000 to the ProKanDo PAC?


Sept 11, 2007 Update:  The IRS in Dallas was asked why the Kansans for Consumer Privacy Protection "not-profit" had not filed an IRS8871 or an IRS990.  The IRS' response ignores the question:  "We cannot disclose what action, if any, the IRS has taken or may take with respect to the information you have provided us."  


Summary:  In the weeks before the Nov 2006 elections, the "non-profit" group, Kansans for Consumer Privacy Protection received $95,700 in "member dues" from the ProKanDo Political Action Committee (PAC), which appears to be legal under Kansas and federal laws.  This non-profit then spent as much as $400,000 to mail "Snoop Dog" ads to possibly hundreds of thousands of Kansas voters, with two of these mailings having messages that weren't just "educational" but called for votes against Phill Kline for Attorney General. Oddly, money flowed in the opposite direction when the non-profit gave a $34,000 treat on Halloween 2006 to the ProKanDo PAC, which kept the ProKanDo PAC from being in the red by as much as $30,000 in the final reporting period in 2006.  This transfer from a non-profit to a PAC is legal by Kansas law but does not appear to be legal by federal law.  One possible legal mechanism (a loan) was not identified on the report filed with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission as the reason for the $34,000 transfer.  Meanwhile, the Kansans for Consumer Privacy Protection "non profit" has exempted itself from federal reporting of its activities on an IRS 990 form. 

Details:  A June 2007 Topeka Capital-Journal article revealed many details behind Tiller's ProKanDo PAC in last year's election (Tiller's influence on state debated)  that had never been reported:

...Tiller didn't contribute to Morrison, but some abortion opponents give a political action committee founded by the doctor credit for the result in the attorney general's race last year. Morrison, an abortion rights Democrat, unseated Phill Kline, an anti-abortion Republican.

The PAC, ProKanDo, raised more than $650,000 in 2005 and 2006, and Tiller contributed $121,000, according to campaign finance records. ...

Over six days in October, ProKanDo paid nearly $96,000 in membership fees to the new nonprofit, though at the end of the month, more than a third of it was sent back. The nonprofit released the "Snoop Dog" mailings.

Under state law, groups that don't "expressly advocate" for a candidate's election or defeat don't have to publicly disclose their contributors or spending. The mailings didn't trigger the reporting requirement because they didn't use a "magic" phrase, such as "vote for" or "oppose."

Burkhart estimated that Kansans for Consumer Privacy Protection raised about $400,000. She declined to discuss other contributors, citing their privacy.

She said the nonprofit group handled the "Snoop Dog" mailings so that voters would focus on the message.

"We live in a state and we live in a time where, unfortunately, it is not OK to be so out front if you're pro-choice and for women's rights," Burkhart said.

What about federal laws?  In this article there was no comment about the possible illegality of the "third of it [$96,000] was sent back"?  How can the Kansans for Consumer Privacy Protection "non-profit" legally give $34,000 to the ProKanDo PAC under federal law? 

Normally non-profits cannot give to a PAC legally, but a PAC can legally give to a non-profit.  The Capital-Journal article also does not state that non-profits must file an IRS 990 form and identify the amount of money raised (but not the contributors), as well as certain details about their expenditures. Why is Julie Burkhart only estimating the $400,000 amount raised by the non-profit, when that group MUST give the exact value when they file their IRS 990 form?  Why are they ignoring IRS non-profit filing requirements?  Somehow, is the ProKanDo-related non-profit, Kansans for Consumer Privacy Protection, exempt from Federal IRS laws?

ProKanDo's $814,460 in political contributions plus the $400,000 spent by the ProKanDo-related non-profit means Dr. Tiller's influence in the 2006 election amounted to perhaps $1.2 million!

22 Days and Counting.  About three weeks before the Nov. 2006 general election, the ProKanDo PAC attempted to raise another $100,000 and gave hints of their strategic plans in this mailing:

 

Larger Version of Letter

Key points from Burkhart's fundraising letter from Oct 16, 2006 include:

  • "... we are putting our election plans into action next week.  We will be communicating with hundreds of thousands of voters across the state of Kansas."

  • "... help us re-elect Governor Sebelius and defeat Attorney General Phill Kline."

  • "We have spent the last two months polling and micro-targeting voters.  We have a strategic plan in place and are ready to go."

  • "We can be successful in securing the top two seats in Kansas." 

Days before the Oct 16 fundraising letter from Burkhart, the ProKanDo PAC had already sent $68,400 to the Kansans for Consumer Privacy Protection "non-profit" to fund the Snoop Dog mailings.  The day after the Oct 16 letter, a final $27,300 was transferred, resulting in a total of $95,700 ProKanDo PAC's money being used in the Snoop Dog ads.  

The report filed on Oct 30, 2006 with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Office (see below) gave the first clues about what was happening with the political and non-profit money:  

 


 

Why ZIP code 67206?  (See below)

Date Description Expenditure
10/12/2006 Member Dues $33,400
10/13/2006 Member Dues $35,000
10/17/2006 Member Dues $27,300
TOTAL $95,700

The first documented  Snoop Dog mailing was seen by Oct 23, 2006.  Five additional Snoop Dog mailings were seen by some voters before the election.  The final Snoop Dog VI was seen by some on Nov 4.  While the extent of these mailings is only known from the ProKanDo fundraising mailing, "we will be communicating with hundreds of thousands of voters across the state of Kansas," recipients in at least 10 counties were documented. See the recently updated Snoop Dog page for details.

In addition, some or most of the nearly $145,000 ProKanDo spent with Stone's Phones, Palm Spring , CA, was for an "In the Dog House" telephone call that many received.  This phone call later was given a "Pollie Award" for "best use of negative/contrast" in a political telephone ad.  One example of a call from Stone's Phones was on Halloween 2006 in Shawnee County:

"Hi, this is Christine.  Attorney General Phill Kline is more interested in defending violent criminals than guarding seniors and our children.  As a state representative, Kline voted against laws that would protect seniors and children.  Now our crime rate is soaring.  Please press 1 on your phone now if you think Phill Kline should stop wasting tax dollars on snooping around our medical records instead of lowering crime rates and protecting seniors and children.  Again, that's 1 if you think it's time to send Snoop Dog Phill Kline to the dog house."   

"Christine"  did not identify who was sponsoring the call. 

Another Shawnee County voter received this call:

"Hi! My name is Emily. I think private medical records are just that -- private. My health is my business, not the government's. That's why I'm supporting Governor Sebelius and Attorney General Candidate Paul Morrison. They want to keep government out of our personal medical records. Phill Kline has used his position as attorney general to invade the private medical records of hundreds of Kansans. That's just wrong. Let's defend ourselves from prying politicians. Join me in voting for Governor Kathleen Sebelius and for Paul Morrison as attorney general."

It's not clear whether this is a "Snoop Dog" phone call but it certainly had the same theme.

The non-profit Kansans for Consumer Privacy Protection may have sponsored a radio commercial on KMAJ in Topeka about 6:15 AM on Nov 2, since the content of that ad was similar to the Snoop Dog mailings.  However, the KMAJ public records show no purchase of a "political" ad that explains the one that was reported.  The research on this seems to have reached a dead end.  

Clearly, there was a coordinated effort with the same theme used by both the non-profit, Kansans for Consumer Privacy Protection, the ProKanDo PAC,  to defeat Phill Kline.

Some voters received as many as six Snoop Dog mailings (and as many as three mailings from Kansans for Lifesaving Cures).  

Snoop Dogs

I

II

III

IV

V

VI
Snoop Dog I Snoop Dog II Snoop Dog III Snoop Dog IV Snoop Dog V Snoop Dog VI

See the Snoop Dogs page for additional information.

The Snoop Dog I and II mailings were not purely "educational."  Once could make the case perhaps the remaining ones were mostly educational.  

These first two Snoop Dogs referred to Kline in his office and invited voters to vote against him but without using the "'magic' phrase, such as 'vote for' or 'oppose'" in an attempt to avoid obvious "express advocacy".  However, the intention of Snoop Dogs I and II was clearly express advocacy:

  • Snoop Dog I:  "We elected Attorney General Phill Kline to protect us from Dangerous Criminals ... It's time to put Snoop Dog on a Leash."  In the days just prior to a statewide election how can one interpret "elected" and  "It's time to put Snoop Dog on a Leash" in any other way than "Vote Against Phill Kline"?  

  • Snoop Dog II:  "Think law-abiding citizens have a right to privacy?  Not while Snoop Dog Kline is in office."  How can "Not while ... Kline is in office" in the days just prior to a statewide election mean anything other than vote against Phill Kline?

These "educational" pieces by a "non-profit" were all intended to motivate votes against Phill Kline.  The Kansans for Privacy Protection "non-profit" was acting like a PAC in distorting Kline's legal actions, but intentionally ignored Federal laws about political action committees. 

The ProKanDo report after the November election had an expected entry, for a money transfer before the election:

 


 

Date Description Contribution
10/12/2006 no description $34,000
TOTAL $34,000

 

Without the return of the $34,000 from the non-profit, the ProKanDo PAC likely would have been in the red at the end of the reporting period on Dec 31, 2006 by nearly $30,000!  ($3,462 - $34,000 = $29,938, to be exact).  

But was this transfer of $34,000 from a non-profit to a PAC legal?  The legal status of this non-profit organization must be determined to determine the answer for that question, but that legal status is not entirely clear, and the election was about nine months ago!

A PAC can legally give money to a non-profit [501c(3) or 501c(4)] but usually a 501c(3) or 501(c)4 non-profit CANNOT give money to a PAC.  [There are some exceptions, like for certain kinds of loans, but ProKanDo did not identify that the $34,000 contribution was a loan. Or is the ProKanDo PAC immune from getting their PAC reports right the first time? ]

What is known about this "non profit"?  The Kansas Secretary of State's web site gives this current information:

Kansas Secretary of State

Business Entity Search

Date: 08/23/2007
Business Information

Current Entity Name

Business Entity ID Number

KANSANS FOR CONSUMER PRIVACY PROTECTION, INC. 6123814

Current Mailing Address:  555 N Woodlawn St.  Suite 215  , WICHITA, KS 67208  
Business Entity Type: DOM:NOT FOR PROFIT CORPORATION  

Current Status: CORPORATION IS ACTIVE AND IN GOOD STANDING 
Date of Formation in Kansas: 08/28/2006

The Articles of Incorporation for Kansans for Consumer Privacy Protection shows ProKanDo PAC Chair, Julie Burkhart, is one of the directors of the corporation, and ProKanDo PAC Treasurer, Linda Joslin, is the other director.  

Jeffrey L. Stowell, 2121 New Hampshire, Lawrence, originally signed as the incorporator of BOTH Kansans for Consumer Privacy Protection AND Progress Kansas, and serves as a Director of Progress Kansas.  These two Kansas non-profits are connected by this person.  The Kansans for Consumer Privacy Protection non-profit was used to change the outcome of the Attorney General's race, while non-profit Progress Kansas knocked out certain State Reps in the Kansas legislature in the Nov 2006 election.

The mailing address given in the Articles of Incorporation:

Kansans for Consumer Privacy Protection, Inc.
555 N. Woodlawn St., Suite 215
Wichita, KS  67208

This non-profit address matches the ProKanDo  address given in their PAC Statement of Organization, which is proof the PAC and the non-profit share the same address:  

However, ProKanDo often uses their PO Box in solicitations, and did file a Form 8871 with the IRS in 2003 showing their address was P.O. Box 8249, Wichita 67208.  

ProKanDo used the ZIP code 67206 for this group in their reports (see above) because the return address used in the Snoop Dog mailings was 6505 E. Central #106, Wichita 67206. 

What will the IRS say if you ask about Kansans for Consumer Privacy Protection non-profit (or Progress Kansas non-profit)?

A request was sent in March 2007 to the IRS in Ogden, UT to find any information they have about the non-profit status of Kansans for Consumer Privacy Protection (and the Progress Kansas non-profit).  The IRS sent this response in May 2007:


 

"We are unable to provide photocopies of the return because our records show this organization does not have an approved application as a tax-exempt organization under 501(A) of the Internal Revenue Code."

Anyone can verify that an IRS Form 8871 cannot be found online.  If neither organization filed an IRS 8871, they will not be disclosing political money on an IRS Form 8872, and should be filing IRS 990s as non-profits.

The Ogden, UT IRS office referred the question to the Cincinnati IRS office to determine if either group had applied for, or was in the process of applying for 501c(4) status.  A response from the Cincinnati IRS office was received in June:

 


 

"We have no record of tax exempt status for this organization under 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code.  Therefore, we have no documents to provide in response to your request."

The Meadowlark cannot find any part of Publication 557, "Tax Exempt Status for Your Organization" that explains how a Kansas not-for-profit, Kansans for Consumer Privacy Protection, does not need to file a 501c(4) application with the IRS.  

An IRS representative in Cincinnati during a phone call on Aug 23, confirmed that these non-profits had not registered with the IRS and no IRS 990 reports were available. 


 

The Meadowlark's next stop will be with the IRS in Dallas, TX to explore "Exempt Organization Classification" to answer the questions:

  • Where is the the application by Kansans for Consumer Privacy Protection (and Progress Kansas) to be a 501c(4) organization under the IRS code?

  • Why doesn't the IRS know about these groups and why haven't these groups filed a Form 990 with the IRS?

Perhaps someday we may learn whether Kansans for Consumer Privacy Protection really gets special treatment under Federal Laws, but this case shows we need better Kansas and U.S. political contribution/non-profit reporting laws so the playing field is level during our elections.  

Update (Aug 29, 2007):  Another non-profit?

Julie Burkhart founded another non-profit, "Legal Assistance for Privacy Protection,Inc." in 2004:  

... Ms. Burkhart built and guided ProKanDo from the ground up, after Dr. George Tiller founded the organization in 2002. Ms. Burkhart also co-founded and became the chair of Legal Assistance for Privacy Protection fund in 2004.

Prior to forming ProKanDo, Ms. Burkhart worked with Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee of Washington State, as well as managing a wide spectrum of political races in Washington. ...

Ms. Burkhart holds a bachelor's degree from Seattle Pacific University and a master's degree from Wichita State University, both in Political Science.   

Current information from the Kansas Secretary of State:

Kansas Secretary of State

Business Entity Search
Date: 08/29/2007

Business Information

Current Entity Name

Business Entity ID Number

LEGAL ASSISTANCE FOR PRIVACY PROTECTION, INC.

3760758

Current Mailing Address:  P.O. BOX 8736, WICHITA, KS 672080736   

Business Entity Type: DOM:NOT FOR PROFIT CORPORATION

Current Status: CORPORATION IS ACTIVE AND IN GOOD STANDING

Date of Formation in Kansas: 03/22/2005

State of Organization: KS

Resident Agent and Registered Office

Resident Agent: JULIE BURKHART

Registered Office:   555 N WOODLAWN STREET  SUITE 215  , WICHITA, KS 67208   

Cheryl Carmichael, along with Julie Burkhart, ProKanDo Executive Director, and Jalen O'Neil Lowry, Topeka, who is a former Associate Professor of Law at Washburn School of Law, are all directors this non-profit.  No IRS 8871 form can be found for this organization (so it's not a PAC).  This group has never been listed as a Kansas PAC.   GuideStar.org does not list this group as a known 501(c)3 non-profit.  It's unclear whether this group has a legal obligation to file an IRS 990, however, since nothing is known about their receipts or expenditures.  

Why don't Kansas voters have the right to know who is spending money during political contests?


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