Monday, July 06, 2009

Polis Ignorant of How $10K To Iraqi LGBT Used;

Group Isn't Accountable

A month ago, I wrote to openly gay Congressman Jared Polis' communications director, asking if he received any accounting from Ali Hili and his Iraqi LGBT group in London. The very rich Polis last year gave $10,000 to the group, for their work with gay people in Iraq. It took a few contacts with his office, but eventually they gave me this answer:
Sent: Wed, Jun 10, 2009 2:16 pm
Subject: RE: Fiscal accounting from Iraqi LGBT?


The Congressman does not know how his donation has been spent.

Lara Cottingham
At the same time, I began a fruitless conversation with Hili, and his supporters Peter Tatchell and Paul Canning in the UK, looking for any degree of accountability from Iraqi LGBT. A month after asking simple transparency questions of Hili, no fiscal accounting has been presented, and most communication with him has stopped.

He did send me a note last week asking that I join up with a pic-sharing service, one that requires lots of personal info before membership is granted. But he's provided no URL to any public accounting from his group, nor has he shared the name of anyone else in his London-based organization who could answer my questions.

Below are most of the exchanges I had with Hili, Tatchell and Canning over the past month, and I really hope other bloggers, gay and international reporters, and non-governmental organizations pose basic transparency questions to Iraqi LGBT.

A lot of money has been donated to Iraqi LGBT over the last four years, including the $10,000 from a U.S. Congressman, to help gays in Iraq. It's time for Iraqi LGBT to provide the public with an accounting.

Here are the emails:

-----Original Message-----
From: mpetrelis@aol. com
Sent: Tue, 9 Jun 2009 9:44 am
Subject: Fiscal accountability and Iraqi LGBT

Hello Ali,

I hope you are well and continuing with your good work on behalf of LGBT people in Iraq. I write to you today to ask some basic questions, about your group and fiscal accountability concerns.

First, who is your accountant and does he provide you with annual reports, that can be shared with donors and the gay public?

Second, can you provide me with a financial accounting of how much money Iraqi LGBT received in 2008, and where the donations were spent?

Third, have you provided U.S. Congressman Jared Polis with a financial accounting of how his $10,000 donation earlier this year was used to directly assist LGBT citizens of Iraq?

Fourth, who are the other persons in the Iraqi LGBT group and is it possible to communicate with any of them who live in London?

Please answer these important questions at your earliest convenience.



From: Paul Canning

Sent: Fri, 12 Jun 2009 9:32 am


A response is being prepared with the group's accountant and in conjunction
with Peter Tatchell. It will address the issues you have raised as well as some other ones which we have on other issues which have arisen. As you may imagine I cannot say more at the moment.



Sent June 12, 2009

Hi Paul,

I write to you about my concerns regarding fiscal accountability and Iraqi LGBT for several reasons. One, you've done much public relations volunteer work and advocacy promotion for Ali Hili and Iraqi LGBT. And two, you're beating the drums again on several gay web sites, soliciting funds for Iraqi LGBT, claiming that money raised will go toward safe houses and expenses for the needs of LGBT citizens of Iraq.

As you can see, I've twice emailed Ali this week for some essential, basic info about his group and their fiscal accountability to the public. For whatever reasons, Ali has not written back and provided me any answers, nor has he told me of a contact of anyone else in his group who could give me the simple answers I'm requesting.

I believe you have a responsiblity to work with Ali to do this. If you're going to ask the gay public for contributions to support alleged safe house in Iraq and other needs of LGBT people in the country, the gay public should have standard fiscal reports about the how the donations have been used. Of course, bear in mind, I"m not asking for the release of any info that could in any way jeopardize the safety and security of LGTB people in Baghdad.

Please, between you and Ali, and whoever else may belong to Iraqi LGBT and serve as their accountant, address my concerns.



Sent June 19, 2009:

Hi Michael,

I think Ali should acknowledge your email, but I am assured by him that records and accounts will be presented. To transfer this mass of detailed information into a publicly presentable form takes time.

Iraqi LGBT's account and book-keeper is a volunteer. He cannot be reasonably expected to drop his full-time job and produce something instantly.

You are right to seek transparency but please give Iraqi LGBT a bit of
time. I am sure from doing your own accounts and tax returns you know how fiddly and time-consuming this task can be.

Best wishes, Peter Tatchell


Sent June 15, 2009:

Dear Ali,

It's been almost a week since I first wrote to you asking for basic accountability, and I not heard back from you. I did receive a vague message, with no dates mentioned, from Paul Canning, saying a reply is being prepared.

I must ask when will you be releasing a fiscal accounting to the gay donors and the gay public? Also, will you be able to name anyone else who is in your group in the UK and can speak with the community?

Answers are very much needed, the sooner the better.

On your web site, , you've taken the liberty of including the video from our May 17 San Francisco action for gay Iraqis, and prominently placed it on your site. Of course, your site is also
making lots of requests for funds, and I am uncomfortable with our SF action and video assisting your fundraising efforts in any way.

I ask for a reply from you today.



Sent: Thu, Jun 18, 2009 1:56 pm

Dear friends and supporters of Iraqi lgbt,

Our team working with our accountant and bookkeeper on publishing and releasing our financial reports with a major news source to put it to the public.

We would really appreciate your patience, help and all your great support.

Kind regards


Date: Friday, 19 June, 2009, 2:37 AM

Hi Ali,

Thanks for FINALLY replying. I am very disappointed you don't give a date when you will produce fiscal accountability. You also don't give the names or contact info for either your bookkeeper and accountant, and you fail to name which major news outlet will receive your report.

But the day after San Francisco staged our May 17 action, you wasted no time asking how money was raised and when you would receive it. So when you want money you can write a letter real quick, but when potential donors request accountability, you are SILENT and give vague notes.

Until such time as you produce some valid fiscal accountability for the 3 -4 years you've been asking for money from the global gay community, I will ask people to withhold donating to your "group."

You really owe everyone a full transparent accounting. Here is your old email:

Date: 18 May 2009 18:53:17 BST

To: Jeff Cotter

Dear Jeff,

On behalf of IRAQI LGBT and myself, we would like to express our sincerest and deepest gratitude and thank you for your efforts in organising yesterday's event in San Francisco ...

As I'm sure you are aware. the fundraising is very important to us and will be immediately put to good use. We have launched an appeal for the safe houses project, details of this including a breakdown of the costs we are bearing can be found here.

Support the safe houses project for lgbt people in Iraq
. We would like to let people know what was raised at the event, could you let us know?

For your information, it is also useful for our planning to know if funds can be expected.
Could you please pass on our deepst appreciation to all those involved with the event. These efforts are truly helping save lives.

Once again, thank you
Ali Hilli


Sent: Thu, Jun 18, 2009 3:47 pm
Subject: Re: Fiscal accountability and Iraqi LGBT

Michael your pushiness has gone too far , this is why i don't want to give you any information because of your aggressive approach.

Until you decide to change your approach i don't believe i can communicate with you.



Date: Friday, 19 June, 2009, 3:16 AM


You should have provided fiscal accountability a long time ago. The problem you are facing is not me being pushy. The problem is you can't produce any accounting or anyone in your "group." Questions must be asked, by reporters who have covered you and your work, about how much money you have raised, has it reached the gays in Iraq or in refuge, and who else is in your group.

I beg you - get your books in order with your accountant, and provide the community with some real answers.



Sent: Thu, Jun 18, 2009 4:22 pm
Subject: Re: Fiscal accountability and Iraqi LGBT

Our accountant Mr Josh Botham is working very hard on this issue, i cannot pressure him anymore. He informed me today that the report might be ready on Tuesday or Wednesday.

We have to get the information from Syria, Iraq and forward this information to Josh after translating it.

Josh believes the reports will be ready next week; we cannot put more pressure on him as he is doing us a favour.



Date: Tuesday, 23 June, 2009, 9:18 PM

Hi Ali,

I am writing an update on this accountability issue for my blog. Last week, you said Josh Botham might have a fiscal report to release to the public and community today. Is the report ready for public inspection? Please inform of when it will be posted on the web.



Sent: Wed, Jun 24, 2009 7:10 am
Subject: Re: Fiscal accountability and Iraqi LGBT

Dear Michael ,

Thank you for your message, our bookkeeper and accountant Mr. Josh Botham has already finished the report and i believe he is awaiting a charities module for his accounting software which will allow him to compile the whole set of accounts together with the narratives and reports you are requesting.

Please bear with us for a few more days.

Warmest regards


Sent: Tue, Jun 30, 2009 8:35 pm
Subject: Re: Fiscal accountability and Iraqi LGBT

Hi Ali,

It's almost a week since you sent this email. What is your update for me? Is your accountant finally ready to release the report? Please respond and let me know when you can publicly share the report.



From: ali hili
Sent: Mon, Jun 29, 2009 7:42 am
Subject: ali h has sent you a private message

ali h


Hi Ali,

I do not join services like this, unless the sender, that's you, tells me what he has posted there. Have you posted your fiscal accounting and answers to my questions about Iraqi LGBT to Flixster? Please tell me what it is you have posted at the link.
If it is the requested accounting, I will join the service.



[There have been no further replies from Ali.]

1 comment:

scott said...

i will refrain from making presumptions but i do appreciate your 'pushiness' on the subject. yours are very important questions.