Voice of OC — Orange County’s Nonprofit Investigative News Agency — Subject of Formal Complaint (Referral) to IRS for Alleged Noncompliance with Tax Laws
As public service to the community, The Leslie Brodie Report publishes* a complaint filed with the Internal Revenue Service (‘IRS’) against Orange County’s Nonprofit Investigative News Agency DBA Voice of OC, below:
Internal Revenue Service
Exempt Organizations Unit
1100 Commerce St.
Dallas, TX 75242-1198
Re: A referral for noncompliance with tax laws against exempt organization ‘Orange County’s Nonprofit Investigative News Agency’ (dba ‘Voice of OC’):
In lieu of using IRS Form 13909 (Tax-Exempt Organization Referral Form), please consider this communication a formal complaint (referral) against an Orange County, California not-for-profit entity known as ‘Orange County Nonprofit Investigative News Agency,’ which operates an online publication under the name ‘Voice of OC’ (located at www.voiceofoc.org).
On September 1, 2011, Orange County’s Nonprofit Investigative News Agency and Voice of OC (collectively, ‘Voice of OC’) were duly served with a request for production of IRS Form 990, Form 990 Schedule A, and Form 1023. (See Exhibit 1.) To date, this request to produce Voice of OC’s tax returns has been ignored, despite the clear mandate by the Internal Revenue Service to fully comply with such requests within 30 days. As such, reluctantly, the undersigned makes this referral.
INTRODUCTION OF ACTORS:
1. Mr. Joe Dunn in his role as the creator of online publication ‘Voice of OC’ – Orange County’s Nonprofit Investigative News Agency.
2. Mr. Joe Dunn in his role as Trustee of the UCI Foundation (an entity which obtained funds from a separate charitable entity known as CaliforniaALL (FEIN Number 51-0656213).
3. Mr. Joe Dunn in his role as Executive Director of the State Bar of California – an entity which also controls and maintains a foundation known as the California Bar Foundation. The California Bar Foundation very quietly transferred close to $780,000 to CaliforniaALL.
4. Mr. Joe Dunn in his role as a politician and business partner of Martha Escutia, who was involved in matters relating to utility companies operating in California.
5. Ms. Gwen Moore – a former Assembly member in the California legislature. Ms. Moore has ‘clout’ over the CPUC and utility companies. Ms. Moore presently serves as a member of the State Bar of California Board of Governors; she has previously been the subject of an FBI sting operation.
6. Mr. Geoffrey Brown – a former commissioner with the CPUC and former board member of the California Bar Foundation. During his tenure as a board member of the California Bar Foundation, a hush-hush transfer of $780,000 was made to CaliforniaALL. Subsequent to this transfer, Mr. Brown abruptly quit his position as board member.
7. Mr. Thomas Girardi of Los Angeles-based law firm Girardi & Keese. Mr. Girardi helped Joe Dunn to establish the Voice of OC, and was a member of its board of directors. Recently, he abruptly quit that position. Mr. Girardi is a well-known donor to the Democratic Party and, in particular, to California Senator Barbara Boxer.
8. Mr. Howard Miller of Los Angeles-based law firm Girardi & Keese. Mr. Miller was a member of both the State Bar of California Board of Governors and the California Bar Foundation board of directors when the ‘hush-hush’ transfer of $780,000 from California Bar Foundation to CaliforniaALL took place.
9. Mr. James Brosnahan of Morrison & Foerster – Mr. Brosnahan represents utility companies. He – along with Thomas Girardi – helped Mr. Joe Dunn create the Voice of OC, the subject of this complaint. Like Mr. Girardi, Mr. Brosnahan also served as member of Voice of OC’s board of directors, and recently also abruptly quit his position.
10. Ms. Susan Mac Cormac of Morrison & Foerster – Ms. Mac Cormac was part of the legal team that created the legal entity known as CaliforniaALL.
11. Mr. Victor Miramontes – a resident of San Antonio, TX and business partner of former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros. Mr. Miramontes was the chairman of CaliforniaALL.
12. Ms. Ruthe Catolico Ashley – a former employee of McGeorge School of Law who later served as a ‘Diversity Officer’ at CalPERS. Ms. Ashley also served as member of the State Bar of California Board of Governors, and came up with the idea to create CaliforniaALL during a meeting with Sarah Redfield and Peter Arth, Jr. (the assistant to CPUC President Michael Peevey). After CaliforniaALL came into existence, Ms. Ashley, after a simulated search, was selected to serve as CaliforniaALL’s executive director.
13. Ms. Sarah Redfield – a visiting professor at McGeorge School of Law and a member of the State Bar of California Committee. Ms. Redfield was chosen to serve as the ‘interim executive director’ for CaliforniaALL, and later also allegedly served as a consultant to CaliforniaALL. For her services, Ms. Redfield was paid for the year of 2008 close to $160,000 as an ‘independent contractor.’ Even though CaliforniaALL was housed pro bono at the law offices of DLA Piper in Sacramento, there is an entry on CaliforniaALL’s tax return for close to $16,000 for ‘occupancy.’
14. Ms. Judy Johnson – the former Executive Director of the State Bar of California. For the past 8 years, she has been secretly serving as the president of an entity with a misleading name (‘California Consumer Protection Foundation’). This entity absorbed close to $30 million in class action cy pres awards, as well as fines and settlements imposed by the CPUC on utility companies. This entity forwarded those funds to mostly questionable ACORN-like entities. On its website, CCPF claims that it has available information on all grantees going back 10 years. Not so. The information is scattered and extremely difficult to ascertain. In fact, a whole year is missing (2002). During that year, incidentally, CCPF awarded funds to the real ACORN as well as to Eric Moore of Educate LA, who is presumably related to Gwen Moore. Ms. Johnson used her position as executive director of the State Bar of California (which is supposed to supervise and discipline lawyers) as ‘clout’ to obtain cy pres awards from the settlement of class actions prosecuted and defended by countless law firms.
15. Mr. Jeffrey Bleich of Munger Tolles & Olson – presently the U.S. ambassador to Australia and a close friend of President Barack Obama. Mr. Bleich served as member of the BOG when CaliforniaALL was conceived. He is mentioned only in reference because Verizon Communications (which heavily contributed to CaliforniaALL) is a client of Munger Tules & Olson.
In approximately 2007, Ruthe Catolico Ashley — an attorney from Sacramento and a member of the State Bar of California Board of Governors — was employed by CalPERS as a ‘Diversity Officer.’ Prior to her employment with CalPERS, Ms. Ashley was employed as a diversity officer at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. While at McGeorge, Ms. Ashley met diversity expert Sarah Redfield.
In April 2007, Ashley, along with Sarah Redfield, met Peter Arth at a restaurant in San Francisco. During that meeting the idea to create CaliforniaALL was conceived. Eventually, CalPERS, CPUC, and the State Bar of California endorsed in principle the creation of CaliforniaALL – a Section 501(c)(3) entity that would raise funds to be used to support a more diverse workforce in California.
Papers were filed with both state and federal agencies to allow CaliforniaALL to operate as a tax exempt entity. Victor Miramontes listed himself as Chairman of the Board, and Sarah E. Redfield served as CaliforniaAll’s interim-executive director for a period of 6 months. Serving as CaliforniaALL’s legal counsel was Susan Mac Cormac of Morrison & Foerster.
California Attorney General RCT reflects that CaliforniaALL obtained its “Charity” status on March 14, 2008 (FEIN Number 510656213). The address for CaliforniaALL is listed as 400 Capitol Mall, Suite 2400, Sacramento, California. This is actually the address of DLA Piper, where CaliforniaALL resided pro bono.
In June 2008, after a ‘nationwide search’ and aided by a pro bono head-hunting firm in its search for a permanent CEO, CaliforniaALL, not surprisingly, hired Ruthe Catolico Ashley as its chief executive officer.
Also not surprisingly, Ruthe Catolico Ashley abruptly exited CaliforniaALL in September 2009 – the same month Joe Dunn launched his non-profit online publication ‘Voice of OC.’
CaliforniaALL was abruptly dissolved in June 2010.
CaliforniaALL’s 990 returns for 2008 list Sarah Redfield of Orono, Maine as an ‘independent contractor.’ Her job description is listed as ‘Program Director.’ and she was paid $157,763. It is unknown to the undersigned whether Redfield paid self-employment taxes or any other applicable state income taxes, either in California or Maine. (Incidentally, Redfield falsely states on her resume that she was part of a ‘curriculum committee’ with SAL-UCI, an entity associated with UCI and the UCI Foundation where CaliforniaALL forwarded funds. In addition, Redfield falsely stated that she ‘launched’ SAL-UCI, an entity that was already in existence from 2005.)
In its brief existence from 2008 to 2010, CaliforniaALL collected close to $2 million from utility companies (AT&T, PG&E, Verizon, Sempra), including a sub rosa ‘hush-hush’ contribution of $769,247 from the State Bar of California Foundation.
To date, data collected by the undersigned shows that CaliforniaALL (which was supposed to forward most of those funds) transferred between $300,000 to $400,000 to the UCI Foundation (where Joe Dunn serves as trustee), spent an unknown amount to honor Gwen Moore at a lavish dinner held at a luxury hotel in Sacramento, paid for other incidental expenses such as salaries, and subsequent to moving out from the offices of DLA Piper to a more modest location , paid for a UPS Store mail box slot in Citrus Heights. (Later, CaliforniaALL relocated its base to the loft of one Larrisa Parecki in Sacramento.)
Between 2001 and 2007, Geoffrey Brown served as a Commissioner with the CPUC. From 2006 to 2009, Brown served as a director of the State Bar of California Foundation. In 2008, California Bar Foundation quietly transferred $769,247.00 to CaliforniaALL. CaliforniaALL never acknowledged receipt of the $769,247.00 from the Cal Bar Foundation in any of its publications, although it did acknowledge the transfer on its IRS tax returns. Likewise, California Bar Foundation never acknowledged the largest grant it ever bestowed in its newsroom, the California Bar Journal, or similar publications; it did, however, recognize the transfer on its IRS returns, and in a 2 by 2 inch blurb in its annual report.
Several months ago, the undersigned asked the State Bar of California Board of Governors to examine the suspicious circumstances surrounding CaliforniaALL (i.e. the hush hush transfer, etc.). While simply presenting facts similar to the above, Geoffrey Brown immediately, as though bitten by a snake, threatened to file legal action against the undersigned even though the communication with the BOG was absolutely privileged and justified, and only made mention of Brown in passing.
The undersigned has met Brown casually once or twice, and was highly impressed with his modest and genteel nature. A group conversation transpired and Brown immediately, without even being asked, volunteered to help and assist. This however, can and will not serve to bar the mentioning of his name as part of the overall description of events (such as in this communication). Such tactics would be unfair to the other individuals and the proper administration of justice. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the undersigned possesses not even a scintilla of evidence that demonstrating that Brown somehow pocketed any money unlawfully or engaged in any other unlawful activities, other than the convenient circumstances described above.
Due to unsettling circumstances involving the State Bar of California (such as the highly secretive control of CCPF by Judy Johnson, the refusal of the State Bar of California to disclose amounts it transfers to Bet Tzedek, a Los Angeles-based entity, the amounts it obtains from ‘voluntary contributions,’ and, in particular, circumstances surrounding CaliforniaALL, Joe Dunn, and the Voice of OC), the undersigned asked Voice of OC to produce its tax returns for the past 3 years.
Specifically, the following circumstances surrounding Voice of OC have caused concerns:
1. Senator Martha Escutia, Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications (EU&C) also participated in meetings with the CPUC concerning diversity. She is a founding member of The Senators (Ret.) firm, LLP, as is Joe Dunn.
2. The fact that some individuals and entities involved in the creation of CaliforniaALL and the subsequent transfer of $769,247.00 from the Cal Bar Foundation to CaliforniaALL, were also involved in assisting Joe Dunn with the creation of ‘Voice of OC’ to wit – on one hand Morrison & Foerster’s Susan Mac Cormac as legal counsel for CaliforniaALL; Girardi & Keese’s Howard Miller in his capacity as BOD member of Cal Bar Foundation, as well as BOG members who voted to endorse CaliforniaALL and consider it to have been a partner of the State Bar of California. On the other hand Morrison &Foerster’s James Brosnahan and Girardi & Keese’s Thomas Girardi as part of helping Joe Dunn with the establishment of Voice of OC.
3. CaliforniaALL was to transfer funds forward. It did so by awarding approximately $300,000 in grants to the UCI Foundation, where Joe Dunn serves as trustee and chair of the Audit Committee. It appears that CaliforniaALL preselected UCI Foundation, making a prior simulated request for proposal (RFP) by Sarah Redfield that led to the grant – a sham process.
4. In September 2009, Ruthe Ashley abruptly exited CaliforniaALL. That same month, Joe Dunn publicly launched his online publication, ‘Voice of OC.’ (as though Ashley’s mission had been completed).
5. The recent abrupt departure of Thomas Girardi and James Brosnahan from ’Voice of OC” (as though they were fleeing the scene with guilty consciences).
As such, several months ago, on September 1, 2011, the Voice of OC was duly served with a request for production of IRS Form 990, Form 990 Schedule A, and Form 1023. (See Exhibit 1 attached) Additionally, said request was delivered to Joe Dunn.
To date, this request to produce Voice of OC’s tax returns has been ignored, despite the clear mandate by the Internal Revenue Service to fully comply with such requests. As such, reluctantly, the undersigned filed this complaint.
As such, I urge you to investigate this matter to determine whether Voice of OC who ignored the request to produce said tax returns violated IRS rules and regulations. I ask that you impose appropriate sanctions against any and all involved, if supported by the results of your investigation.
I look forward to your response. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need additional information.
*Links and photos inserted by The Leslie Brodie Report.