You are hereThe Chronicle of Philanthropy: Videographer Behind Secret NPR Videos Makes Push for Nonprofit Status
The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Videographer Behind Secret NPR Videos Makes Push for Nonprofit Status
March 14, 2011- James O’Keefe, the controversial videographer, has taken down the prominent antipoverty group Acorn, senior NPR executives, and employees at both Planned Parenthood and the New Jersey teachers’ union.
But he may face a tougher task now that he is asking for help from one of the nation’s biggest institutions, the Internal Revenue Service.
The 26-year-old self-proclaimed investigative journalist is seeking charity status for Project Veritas, an organization he created to raise money for his projects.
Because its application with the IRS for tax-exempt status is still pending, little information is publicly available about Project Veritas and how it will operate. The IRS does not make public applications for charity status until after it approves them.
But it is certain that his application is not clear-cut, tax lawyers say—and until he gets that status he cannot offer his donors the opportunity to write off gifts to his group.
Mr. O’Keefe—through a spokesman, Kevin McVicker— declined to be interviewed by The Chronicle about his plans for Project Veritas.
An attempt to visit Mr. O’Keefe at Project Veritas’s official address in Washington—2100 M Street N.W., Suite 170-241—was also unsuccessful. Suite 170 is a UPS store and No. 241 is a small mailbox that rents for $35 a month.
Project Veritas’s first step in getting an exemption is to file an application with the IRS known as Form 1023.
As part of that application process, Project Veritas must meet key requirements about how the group is organized and operated and spell out what charitable mission it will pursue.
Organizations must also prove that their assets do not unjustly enrich board members or officers and that board members do not pursue business activities unrelated to their tax-exempt purpose. Applicants must also show that they do “not engage in activities that are illegal or violate fundamental public policy.”
What’s more, applicants must “absolutely refrain from participating in the political campaigns of candidates for local, state, or federal office.”