Trump ally uses controversial tactic to woo black voters
ReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH
Trump ally uses controversial tactic to woo black voters 04:20
(CNN)A nonprofit organization started by two Trump administration allies that stirred up controversy earlier this year for holding cash giveaways in predominantly Black communities had its tax exempt status auto-revoked after failing to provide legally required forms to the Internal Revenue Service for three years in a row.
The organization, called the Urban Revitalization Coalition, Inc. and created to support President Donald Trump and his administration’s policies, was started by Pastor Darrell Scott, the co-chair of Black Voices for Trump, and Kareem Lanier, who works in real estate and business development. Both Scott and Lanier lead the National Diversity Coalition for Trump.According to public information on the IRS website, the organization’s tax exemption status “was automatically revoked for not filing a Form 990-series return or notice for three consecutive years” effective May 15, 2020 and was placed on the “Automatic Revocation List” on August 11, 2020.
Scott told CNN the organization has paused events due to the coronavirus pandemic, but was unaware of the change in the nonprofit’s status.Lanier told CNN because the organization’s offices are closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, they did not receive a letter from the IRS regarding the change in the coalition’s nonprofit status and that the status change was recently brought to their attention. He also said the coalition would be submitting required forms in order to have its nonprofit status reinstated in the next few weeks. Read More”Our offices were closed (& still are) due to the government shutdown/quarantine because of the coronavirus therefore we did not receive the letter they sent us in May until it was brought to our attention a few days back,” he said.According to a 2019 determination letter from the IRS and previous information on the group’s website, the address of the organization is connected to the same building as Scott’s Cleveland Heights, Ohio church, New Spirit Revival Center, where Scott appeared for a live service on March 22.When an organization’s tax exempt status is revoked, it is “no longer exempt from federal income tax” and “is not eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions,” according to the IRS. Asked about the group’s tax exemption revocation, a spokesperson with the IRS said “due to privacy laws, we can’t provide any information on the individual (organization).” Also asked how a nonprofit would be notified of a tax exempt revocation if their office closed due to the pandemic, the spokesperson said the IRS publishes on its site a list of organizations whose tax-exempt status was automatically revoked and that they are also “notified by mail with a CP-120A Notice.” The agency did not comment on when the letter was sent to URC.The IRS extended the deadline for tax-exempt organizations to file Form 990s and notices from May 15 to July 15 and said tax-exempt organizations that needed more time to file could request an extension for six month beyond the original due date. Lanier did not say why the organization had not submit required documents to the IRS the past two years.Automatically revoked organizations must file another application for tax exemption to have its status reinstated and can request retroactive reinstatement. A user fee must also be paid. CNN previously reported that America First Policies, the nonprofit arm of a pro-Trump super PAC, issued a $238,000 grant to the group for “general support,” according to its 2018 tax return.The organization received backlash earlier this year after it was slated to give away $30,000 and honor President Donald Trump and other Trump administration officials at an event at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, according to fliers circulated promoting it.And in December, Scott and Lanier held an event in Cleveland billed as a Christmas “cash giveaway” where they gave away $25,000 in amounts over $300, including a gift of $1,000. During the event, Lanier frequently praised Trump’s efforts and Scott tweeted before the event “This is how Black folks Pro-Trump events begin.”And in a slick promotional video of one of the events, which appears to have been created for the coalition and shared on social media by Scott, nearly every sound bite from speakers at the event used in the video praised Trump.
Both events raised legal questions, because as a designated 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the coalition is prohibited from “directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office,” according to the IRS. The agency also warns that “violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.”Lanier previously said the coalition was funded solely by “private donors” who were not associated with the Trump campaign and pushed back on claims it is trying to solicit support from Black voters for the President.