Most of the detail has already been presented in my article, “Is the Cold Case Posse a Charity?” The Maricopa County Sheriffs Cold Case Posse, Inc. (MCSOCCP) is designated a 501(c)(3) exempt organization (a charity that doesn’t pay taxes and who can accept tax-deductible contributions). Generally such organizations are required to file reports of their expenditures with the IRS on Form 990.
There is a reporting exemption for organizations that are “affiliates of governmental units” under the presumption that the governmental unit keeps tabs on their financial activities, and GuideStar (a source of information on non-profits) says that the MCSOCCP claims such an exemption; however, the MCSOCCP does not qualify for the exemption based on IRS criteria unless the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office provides financial management or financial oversight of the Posse. The missing piece of evidence of illegal activity (failure to file Form 990) that I alluded to in a comment yesterday is a letter from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office indicating that there is no financial management or oversight by the Sheriff’s Office of its Cold Case Posse. Here’s the letter:
I filed a referral with the IRS this morning. By law, the IRS cannot provide any status information about such referrals beyond acknowledgment of receipt. The Cold Case Posse is also “not in good standing” with the State of Arizona for failure to file a report due last June (not a financial report).
The problem here, and the reason that I filed the referral, is that the Cold Case Posse, while claiming a government tax exemption, does not report its expenditures as required by law: It doesn’t report them to the Sheriff’s Office, it doesn’t report them to the Arizona Secretary of State, and it doesn’t report them to the IRS.
I looked on an additional web site, 501c3lookup.org, and the way I interpret that information, it appears that the IRS considers the Cold Case Posse an instrumentality of a state or political subdivision. (The material I presented to the IRS would demonstrate that this classification is not applicable to the Cold Case Posse.)
When applying to the IRS, one of the questions on the application for exemption form (Form 1023) is: Are you affiliated with a governmental unit? Besides an indication that an explanation should be provided for a “Yes” answer, there aren’t any specific questions for determining whether or not the applicant qualifies as a governmental unit. If the MCSOCCP has indeed a determination from the IRS that it is a governmental unit, and the IRS did its job correctly, and I correctly understand the criteria, one would conclude that the MCSOCCP misrepresented itself to the IRS or that it operates in a materially different way from when it was chartered.
By law an exempt organization is required to provide a copy of Form 1023 upon request and I requested this from the Cold Case Posse in a letter sent by certified mail, but of course the Cold Case Posse doesn’t claim its certified mail.