22 June 2007

New Innovations in Slipperyness

When running for president is your full-time job, somebody has to buy the jet fuel. In John Edwards' case I guess it's "the poor" who are going to foot his bill:
Mr. Edwards, who reported this year that he had assets of nearly $30 million, came up with a novel solution, creating a nonprofit organization with the stated mission of fighting poverty. The organization, the Center for Promise and Opportunity, raised $1.3 million in 2005, and — unlike a sister charity he created to raise scholarship money for poor students — the main beneficiary of the center’s fund-raising was Mr. Edwards himself, tax filings show.
Just another lesson in how you can't trust any of these finks any farther than you can throw them.
While Mr. Edwards said the organization’s purpose was “making the eradication of
poverty the cause of this generation,” its federal filings say it financed “retreats and seminars” with foreign policy experts on Iraq and national security issues. Unlike the scholarship charity, donations to it were not tax deductible, and, significantly, it did not have to disclose its donors — as political action committees and other political fund-raising vehicles do — and there were no limits on the size of individual donations.
I actually believe that if you read the rules and obey what they say, the unwritten rest of it is open to your own interpretation. That approach has given us the mechanical unicorns and innovations in motor sports, for instance, but in the case of politics, there's nothing more slimy than financing your own aggrandizement on the (on paper) backs of "the poor," whoever they are in this case of political expediency.

But it was (Edwards) use of a tax-exempt organization to finance his travel and employ people connected to his past and current campaigns that went beyond what most other prospective candidates have done before pursuing national office. And according to experts on nonprofit foundations, Mr. Edwards pushed at the boundaries of how far such organizations can venture into the political realm. Such entities, which are regulated under Section 501C-4 of the tax code, can engage in advocacy but cannot make partisan political activities their primary purpose without risking loss of their tax-exempt status.
And that bleak assessment is from the New York Times.

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