A Republican-tied dark money nonprofit has issued a news release questioning payments made to 2nd District Democratic candidate Clarke Tucker by a nonprofit trust he directs. His campaign called it a false, negative political
attack.

The National Republican Campaign Committee alerted me to a news release by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust.

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FACT said it had asked the IRS to investigate a total of about $40,000 in payments made to Tucker over a three-year period, 2016-18, as sole trustee of the HLB Universal Healthcare Trust. It drew the facts from Tucker’s income tax returns for the trust and his own financial disclosures as a state legislator.

FACT contends in a letter to the IRS that under tax law no income from a nonprofit can “inure to the benefit” of a private individual. Nonprofits may employ individuals as managers and for other purposes. FACT contends that Tucker can’t be paid because there are no other officers or directors and it concludes he wasn’t qualified for an exception allowed for payments for services because of what it sees as lack of evidence of sufficient activity on his part. It noted the foundation paid others for accounting and legal services.

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Tucker’s campaign spokesman Graham Senor issued a statement saying the payments were proper.

This is the exact type of false, negative political attack people are tired of.

Clarke oversees the trust of a passed family member, Cindy Bost, by the books and is acting in accordance with the law and her wishes in doing so. Her direction for the primary gift was to go to Harvard, which is why she selected Clarke to oversee the trust. This frivolous complaint is a desperate attempt to distract voters from Congressman Hill’s record against Arkansas families and workers, which contrasts heavily with Clarke’s work here in Arkansas protecting our health care, empowering entrepreneurs, investing in education, and standing up for our veterans.ing entrepreneurs, investing in education, and standing up for our veterans.

FACT noted that the trust, which, according to the most recent tax filing, had about $1.25 million in assets, reported one charitable grant in the two years of tax returns on file — a $50,000 contribution to Tucker’s alma mater, Harvard. The tax form doesn’t require listing of work done related to that distribution.

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FACT says it is a nonprofit “dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas.” Its president in its most recent tax filing, in 2016, was Matthew Whitaker, a Washington lawyer and Republican politician in Iowa. He is now chief of staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Whitaker was paid more than $400,000 by FACT, according to its 2016 filing. Kendra Arnold, a lawyer who has appeared on Fox News, succeeded Whitaker when he went to work for Sessions.

The FACT website contains numerous articles attacking Democratic politicians. Other leaders are well-known in Republican circles, as this Open Secrets article in 2016 notes. Its belief in transparency doesn’t extend to its own operation. Wrote Open Secrets:

FACT is a much newer creation, organized in 2014 as a conservative counterweight to watchdog groups viewed as more left-of-center, such as Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. The newer outfit took its first public action about a year ago when it filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Democratic voter data firm Catalist.

Since then, FACT has, on rare occasions (possibly just once), gone after a Republican, but most frequently accuses Democrats — particularly frontrunner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — of ethical or legal violations.

Its funding — $600,000 in 2014, according to the only tax return it has filed to date — comes entirely from a conservative donor-advised fund called DonorsTrust, which means it could come from anywhere. DonorsTrust is a pass-through vessel that manages the charitable contributions of wealthy individuals and foundations to organizations that are “dedicated to the ideals of limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise,” according to its website, while allowing the donors to remain anonymous. Charles Koch is among the many conservatives who have filtered money through DonorsTrust.

FACT’s payments in a subsequent 2016 filing for the previous year included $180,000 for research to America Rising, a PAC that attacks Democrats. That report identified no sources for $1.3 million in FACT revenue in the year.

It would appear Republicans are taking seriously Tucker’s challenge of Republican incumbent Rep. French Hill.

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