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Did Sheehan Defraud With Charity Claim?

For at least the first seven months of its existence Cindy Sheehan’s Gold Star Families For Peace claimed to be a 501c3 tax exempt charity.

The following statement appeared on the GSFP site from January 27, 2005 until at least August 16, 2005 (now only available via the Internet Wayback Machine):

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And numerous websites both for and against Cindy Sheehan have reported that Gold Star Families For Peace was a 501c3.

Of course claiming the IRS tax status of a charity makes quite a difference when it comes to getting contributions. From Wikipedia:

501(c)

Charitable deductions

Under IRC Section 170, individuals giving to 501(c)(3) organizations that are either public charities, private operating foundations, and certain private foundations may deduct contributions representing up to 50% of the donor’s adjusted gross income if the individual itemizes on his tax returns. Individuals giving to 501(c)(3) organizations that are private foundations may generally deduct contributions representing up to 30% of their adjusted gross income. Corporations may deduct all contributions to 501(c)(3) organizations (regardless of foundation status) up to an amount normally equal to 10% of their taxable income.

501(c)(3) status for charities and the related section 170 deduction for donors are important to many charitable groups. Some individuals and groups (and virtually all foundations) will not give to a charity if it does not have 501(c)(3) status (as no tax deduction would be allowed). Therefore, loss of this status can be harmful (if not fatal) to a charity’s existence.

But it appears that the GSFP’s claim of being a 501c3 was completely untrue. The current donations page for the Gold Star Families For Peace site now reads:

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Support Gold Star Families for Peace

Gold Star Families for Peace are working to Raise awareness in the United States about the true human costs of the invasion/occupation of Iraq. All donations to Gold Star Families for Peace will be used to assist families who have been impacted by the war. GSFP is in the process of filing for 501C3 non-profit organization.

Indeed the Internal Revenue Service’s own online search engine for charities and non-profits does not turn up any registration for GSFP as a 501c3. Neither does a search of California charities via the California Attorney General’s Office.

A search of GuideStar, the defacto repository of non-profits records also comes up empty.

If that is the case then Cindy Sheehan and her group received contributions for a least seven months from people who thought they were donating money to a 501c3 charity and that they could deduct their contribution from their taxes.

Was this misrepresentation of their tax status not fraud on the part of Cindy Sheehan, her sister DeDe Miller and the rest of the GSFP organization?

How many hundreds of thousands of dollars were collected under the pretense of being a 501c3 non-profit "charity"?

And indeed, to even suggest that they are in the process of filing for a 501c3 after all of this time is still some kind of misrepresentation. The application form is fairly simple and should only take a few minutes to fill out.

Coincidentally, Cindy Sheehan’s earliest sponsors down in Texas, the Crawford Peace House, are now facing similar questions about their own operations.

The folks at the CPH have lost their corporate charter and are being investigated by the Texas State Comptroller’s office and the IRS. (Cindy Sheehan is also a director of the Crawford Peace House.)

Insiders claim that the Crawford Peace House collected more than $700,000 in contributions.

How much money did Cindy Sheehan collect under fraudulent pretenses?

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, April 4th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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