Friday, July 2, 2010
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Republican gubernatorial candidate John Oxendine has paid $12,500 “for the door-knocking services of 150 teenagers” in the primary race this month. The Oxendine campaign reportedly paid the money to Gold Dome Consulting, a for-profit consulting firm owned by Public Service Commission candidate Tim Echols. The teens are also reported to be campaigning for Echols for free. Why are the kids knocking on doors in Georgia’s summer heat? The article states that they are there “at the request” of Echols, who founded TeenPact, a government leadership-training arm of the Family Resource Network, a nonprofit exempt from federal income tax as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. This is the same provision, of course, requiring as a condition of exemption that the entity “not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”
Echols reportedly maintains that, although the teens are TeenPact participants, they are not campaigning through TeenPact:
"The Oxendine campaign has hired my consulting firm, Gold Dome Consulting, to do a limited amount of grass-roots work," Echols said. "This includes dropping literature door to door. My team is dropping their [Oxendine's] literature and mine."
Echols said "most of the folks helping with the project are students, but this is not a TeenPact project. I have been paid a fee of $12,500, which will be on their [Oxendine's] disclosure this quarter.
"I have taken great precautions to ensure that no asset of TeenPact is used to aid any campaign, including my own. The IRS has strict rules that prohibit nonprofits from assisting campaigns, and I am in full compliance."