Wednesday, March 06, 2013

SPLC Posts New IRS 990; NMAC Hides Tax Filing

In the past few years, I've been critical of the Southern Poverty Law Center in posts here and here, for not addressing poverty and amassing more than $230 million in assets, bank accounts in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, partially ownership in foreign firms and robust $300,000 executive salaries.

Yet none of the criticism stopped the SPLC this week from sharing their 2011 IRS 990 filing with me via email and also posting the latest tax filing on their site, after I requested they do so. From Brooke McDowell, their development associate:

Thank you for recently contacting the Southern Poverty Law Center. I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your inquiry. Per your request, I have attached the most recent SPLC IRS 990. I am sorry you were unable to obtain this from our website. Please be assured that I have notified our web development department in hopes that our site can be updated as soon as possible. 

From their communications director Penny Weaver:

The 2011 IRS 990 is now posted on our website. Thanks for bringing to our attention the fact that it was not. 

When it comes to fiscal transparency, the SPLC gets good marks from me. Their financial information page contains their most current IRS 990, audited financial statement and annual report. However, I wish to push them to post three-to-five years of IRS 990 filings so the public can get a fuller financial picture.

Compare all that transparency with the National Minority AIDS Council and how its executive director Paul Kawata share not a single IRS 990 filing, audit statement or annual report on their About Us page.

NMAC is so behind the times on transparency and I wish they would follow the leadership of not just SPLC but many AIDS Inc groups who understand sharing fiscal info on their sites is a fundamental component of accountability to the community.

Maybe we need to propose term limits for executive directors of AIDS Inc groups. Kawata has been in charge of NMAC since 1989 and I suspect only such limits will bring new, much-needed thinking to this group. Since Kawata's been the top honcho of NMAC we've lived through the presidencies of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama's first term.

Change in leadership is healthy and democratic, a lesson for the NMAC board to learn.

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