Monday, March 26, 2012
Donors to politically active organizations described in Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(4) apparently are not the only ones whose identities are being sought these days. In Menino Discloses Donors to Boston-Run Charity, the Boston Globe reports that Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino has released a list of donors and an accounting of expenditures of a charity controlled by the City of Boston that has accepted money from many conducting city business. Established by a former mayor, the fund reportedly has been used to fund concerts, parades, and other neighborhood events. Watchdog groups have called for heightened transparency of the fund’s operations:
“This is an area that cries out for full transparency,’’ said Pamela Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, a government watchdog. “All donors should be disclosed. This is an entity that is controlled by the city, and by having secret donors, there is a potential for using a contribution as a way of gaining access and influence.’’
Mayor Menino’s administration, reports the story, rejects the notion that donations to the charity could influence government action on city contracts or development projects because of strict state procurement and bidding laws. However, it does appear that the scrutiny of the charity has prompted a few changes. The article observes that the fund itself “will no longer collect payments for events and promotions on City Hall Plaza and other public property,” and that, for the first time, rates for using City Hall Plaza will be uniformly set in advance, rather than privately negotiated.