Friday, July 12, 2013

What rises to the level of “private inurement” and “private benefit?”

A member of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) filed a Form 211, Application for Award for Original Information to get to the bottom of what CREW deemed “self-dealing transactions” involving the James Madison Center for Free Speech (JMCFS), James Bopp Jr., and The Bopp Law Firm.

CREW alleges that Mr. Bopp, head of JMCFS, has “diverted nearly all of the non-profit funds to pay his own law firm” and those transactions “violate prohibitions on using charitable organization for private inurement and private benefit.” CREW’s addendum to the Form 211 claims that from 2006-2011, JMCFS’s total expenditures were $2,133,268 and $2,129,014 of that money was paid to the Bopp Law Firm.

The JMCFS was founded “to protect the First Amendment right of all citizens to free political expression in our democratic Republic.” Additionally, JMCFS asserts that its purpose is “to support litigation and public education activities in order to defend the rights of political expression and association by citizens and citizen groups as guaranteed by the First Amendment.” In addition to Mr. Bopp serving as the head of JMCFS, he has dedicated his law firm to providing legal assistance to people and organizations with principles like JMCFS.

What facts, if any, are indicative of private inurement and private benefit? Does CREW have enough to prove its case?


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