NYT: Main beneficiary of Edwards' non-profit is Edwards himself
In order to keep his public profile up after the 2004 presidential election, John Edwards, no longer in the senate, started a non-profit organization called the Center for Promise and Opportunity. The organization had the stated goal of "fighting poverty" and since 2005 has raised $1.3 million.
But, "unlike a sister charity created to raise scholarship money for poor students -- the main beneficiary of the center's fund-raising was Edwards himself, federal tax filings show," the New York Times is reporting.
The organization became a big part of a shadow political apparatus for Mr. Edwards after his defeat as the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2004 and before the start of his presidential bid this time around. Its officers were members of his political staff, and it helped pay for his nearly constant travel, including to early primary states.
While Mr. Edwards said the organization’s purpose was “making the eradication of poverty the cause of this generation,” its federal filings say it financed “retreats and seminars” with foreign policy experts on Iraq and national security issues. Unlike the scholarship charity, donations to it were not tax deductible, and, significantly, it did not have to disclose its donors — as political action committees and other political fund-raising vehicles do — and there were no limits on the size of individual donations.
But it was his use of a tax-exempt organization to finance his travel and employ people connected to his past and current campaigns that went beyond what most other prospective candidates have done before pursuing national office. And according to experts on nonprofit foundations, Mr. Edwards pushed at the boundaries of how far such organizations can venture into the political realm. Such entities, which are regulated under Section 501C-4 of the tax code, can engage in advocacy but cannot make partisan political activities their primary purpose without risking loss of their tax-exempt status.
READ THE FULL NY TIMES REPORT HERE