On May 23, 2012 the Boston Globe wrote about the Deval Patrick Administration’s use of a non-profit to fund international trade missions. The article stated that the non-profit was funded by businesses in the state. A Red Mass Group investigation has determined that the non-profit, “Moving Mass Forward”, run by high ranking Patrick Administration officials, had not filed a tax return for the end of Fiscal year 2011. The tax return was filed yesterday, June 20, 2012, with a plea for relief from penalties.
Upon learning of the non-profit, Red Mass Group sought to understand the corporate structure of the administration’s travel funding operation. A search of the Secretary of State’s records turned up that articles of incorporation had been filed listing Economic Development Secretary Gregory Bialecki as the sole, place holder, officer for all positions at the 501(c)3. As of March 23, 2012 that was the only document filed with the Secretary of State’s Office.
Red Mass Group then tried further to locate who was running the non-profit and researched the non-profit on the Attorney General’s website. Not seeing the non-profit an email was sent to the Attorney General’s division of charities, asking for assistance. In addition a phone call was made to the press agent for the charities division. The press agent informed Red Mass Group that as of May 23, 2012 the 501(c)3 was not yet required to file.
Earlier this week, the Division of Charities informed Red Mass Group that the administration’s charity was not in compliance with the Attorney General. This later turned out to be erroneous, as they actually had 18 months from their formation to register fully with the Attorney General. Between learning of the erroneous “non-compliance” status and learning from those higher up in the Attorney General’s office of their communications error, Red Mass Group contacted Secretary Bialecki’s office.
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The Department of Housing and Economic Development looked into the matter and determined that they had not in fact filed their Form 990 non-profit tax form for Fiscal Year 2011. The form is due four months from the end of the fiscal year. In this case, that date was in November of 2011. The tax return was filed, yesterday June 20, 2012 as a result of Red Mass Group’s inquiry.
In addition the administration took the extra step of filing, five months early, the required paperwork with the Attorney General, in addition to coming in compliance, before Red Mass Group’s inquiry with the Secretary of State’s office.
Jason Lefferts, a spokesman for Greg Bialecki said, “”Moving Massachusetts Forward takes transparency seriously, and documentation filed with the Secretary of State’s Office and elsewhere provide details on its structure and financing that are available to the public. During a recent review of Moving Massachusetts Forward documents, some details were updated, including the structure of MMF’s governing body. However, through an oversight not all required documents were filed. ” Lefferts continued, “Those documents were prepared as soon as possible to fulfill Moving Massachusetts Forward’s filing requirements”.
In addition to the statement, Lefferts provided Red Mass Group with the filings made both to the Attorney General’s office and the IRS.
Tim Buckley, the spokesman for the Massachusetts Republican Party had the following to say about the late IRS filing, “it is not surprising that the same people responsible for giving Evergreen Solar $10,000,000 would fail in filing the proper paperwork for their supposed non-profit. Perhaps if they spent more time governing the state, instead of planning the next junket this would not have been overlooked.”
Pam Wilmot, the Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts, who was very skeptical of the arrangement by which businesses were asked to fund the Governor’s travels in the first place, said, “filing is not an option, it’s a requirement, and it’s distressing to see how many organizations apparently don’t know this. Kudos to Red Mass Group, for keeping organizations on their toes and getting the proper papers submitted.”
A follow up article will look at the management structure of Moving Forward Massachusetts.