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Fraudulent Gun Control Politics At The Million Mom March

by Jim March and Nadja Adolf
with the help of Angel Shamaya of KeepAndBearArms.com
and many others who prefer to remain anonymous

March 15, 2001

For best printing results, click here for the .pdf file of this document. (1818K)

These ladies had maybe 40,000 people at their so-called The dual organizations currently known as the "Million Mom March" have been illegally sucking tax dollars since 1995 - that we can document so far. During this entire period and probably going back further, they deliberately defrauded the City and County of San Francisco, obtaining huge amounts of free office space and other logistical support under false pretenses.

This page will prove it.

They've also violated numerous Federal tax statutes; investigations in this area are ongoing. They won't be able to alter Federal tax statements so it should be safe to publish what we have so far.

Wherever this page links to a website maintained by one of these orgs, we also "mirror it locally", in case they start hiding evidence. All of the websites are as the other side is publishing them as of 3/3/2001. If the other side cuts their sites completely, some of the "local mirror" graphics may be missing but in each case, the core of what's going on will be obvious even in that situation.

Following is what this document contains:

A quick guide to non-profits: understanding 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations

Both are "charitable corporations," but only the 501(c)(4) is allowed to engage in partisan politics. 501(c)(3)s cannot; they can lobby the legislature only under very limited circumstances and must stay within their original charter (education, research, etc).

The advantage to a 501(c)(3) is that donations are tax deductible. Effectively, the government refunds about 2/5ths or so of a person's donation in the form of tax breaks, depending of course on their tax bracket.

When 501(c)(3)s fill out a special IRS form requesting minimal lobbying ability, they probably cannot receive government subsidies. That's currently something a tax attorney needs to look into.

It's also illegal for a 501(c)(3) to support a 501(c)(4) political group. And there are technicalities that complicate situations where a 501(c)(3) engages in wrongful politics, and then tries to break off a portion of their activities into a 501(c)(4)...as you'll see, it's very likely a violation in that area occurred.

One thing we know for sure: a government entity cannot support a 501(c)(4) political organization, and we can prove that's happening. There appears to be a determined attempt in progress to hide it, or at least make it less obvious to the hospital and city.

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Roots of the Trauma Foundation

The 501(c)(3) Trauma Foundation has had office space inside the county-owned-and-run SF General Hospital since 1981. They started out as burn safety researchers and reform advocates; their first "big issue" seemed to involve publicizing the dangers of children's flammable underwear, certainly a high-minded goal. At present, there's still some burn-related issue material on the main TF website:

http://www.tf.org

TF currently produces "searchable libraries" of trauma-related information. According to this page, four out of the five current online libraries are gun-control related:

http://www.tf.org/tf/lib&data/contentl.shtml
(or view local archive tflibraries.html of this, if TF takes it down)

This "Libraries" page does mention their support for the "Million Mom March Foundation", which we'll get to later. But the TF "accomplishments" and "history" pages:

…stop at 1996, and barely mention gun control. Considering the high profile of the MMM, why not talk about it right here, considering that TF and the MMM share most of the same officers, the same organizational contact person for serve of process (Eric Gorovitz) and the same address?

Easy: because the MMM is wildly political, and they never bothered to tell the GOVERNMENT-run Hospital that they'd turned into a political organization.

We'll get to that later. For now, let's talk about fraud by the TF itself.

In 1995, Congressman Bob Barr made a pair of complaints about improper political activity on the part of Trauma Foundation, paid for by the Centers for Disease Control, part of the Clinton administration Department of Health and Human Services. Barr complained directly to CDC's Director, David Satcher, in a two-page letter you can read for yourself here: Page 1, Page 2. The juice of the letter is excerpted below to save your time and cut to the chase:

"I would hope you would be interested in what appears to be very inappropriate, if not illegal, activity on the part of one organization who receives taxpayer funds from a CDC grant...The organization is the Trauma Foundation out of San Francisco...In its Spring 1995 newsletter (vol. II, no. 1) this organization specifically advocates legislative action opposing or endorsing certain federal legislation and laws...urges its readers to engage in picketing activities...very likely illegal...concerned with the integrity of the system that places very important restrictions on how taxpayer dollars can be spent (eg. not for lobbying...)...request that these matters be inquired into and appropriate action taken....please respond...[with] a substantive reply... Bob Barr."

It seems likely that Congressman Barr didn't understand that SF General Hospital was a government facility, otherwise he'd have investigated their theft of local taxpayer resources. Barr also sent a one-page memo to the Chairman of the congressional committee that tries to oversee morons of this type. You can read the actual letter by clicking here, or simply read the relevant excerpts below:

"I write to bring your attention to a matter that goes beyond impropriety, and in my judgment crosses the line into potential illegality. I have written...Director at CDC asking him to investigate...I consider these activities...very likely illegal...highly offensive...enclosed [is] a copy of my letter to Director Satcher...I would officially request that you committee investigate these matters....Bob Barr."

The CDC's Director, David Satcher, responded by takings funds back off of TF after finding Barr's complaint valid. It wasn't a total apology but at least it was a significant correction. Click here to read the full letter, or here are the salient excerpts:

"...have reviewed and determined...was inappropriate use of funds under the anti-lobbying provisions of Federal grant guidelines. Consequently, the CDC is disallowing the costs charged to the CDC grant for the publication of the newsletter. ... CDC is committed to the appropriate use of federal funds....it is not CDC's intention to promote an anti-gun agenda."

This incident led to CDC getting stripped of all ability to fund similar propaganda.

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From TF to Bell Campaign to Million Mom March

In 1999, TF launched a new 501(c)(3) devoted exclusively to gun control: The Bell Campaign. Bell was tied very tightly into TF, in fact a "help wanted ad" for a Bell financial administrator currently on the Bell website is highly illuminating:

http://www.thebellcampaign.com/about/jobs/financialdirector.htm
(local mirror: tfbell.html)

It reads in part:

About The Bell Campaign

Employment Opportunities at The Bell Campaign National Office
FINANCIAL DIRECTOR
$60,000 - $70,000

The Trauma Foundation, located at San Francisco General Hospital, is a non-profit policy center dedicated to reducing injuries and deaths due to injuries. Since 1981, the Trauma Foundation has provided policy leadership at the local, state, and national levels to prevent injuries related to alcohol, burns, domestic violence, guns, transportation, the workplace, and youth. In 1999, the Trauma Foundation assisted in the launching of The Bell Campaign, a national grassroots organization to prevent gun injury and death, and to support victims of gun trauma. The Financial Director reports to the Executive Director and is responsible for all aspects of accounting for the Trauma Foundation and The Bell Campaign, with total annual operating budgets of $5.5 million.

We are seeking an individual who enjoys working for a non-profit and will support the mission of the Trauma Foundation and The Bell Campaign. Qualifications for this position include: a minimum of ten years experience in all aspects of accounting; a proven ability to handle budgeting, financial monitoring, and reporting for multi-company and diverse funding sources; and a thorough knowledge of generally accepted accounting principles. Knowledge of, and experience with, the laws and regulations governing non-profits is highly desirable. Eligible candidates must also have excellent communication skills, strong leadership abilities, and a desire to work with a diverse staff in a fast-paced, cooperative working environment. Persons who are bilingual/bicultural, and persons of color or with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.

The page is subtitled with this graphic:

That effectively dates the page to sometime after the MMM march on Washington, DC in early 2000. According to this, the same highly paid staffer is supposed to support Trauma Foundation, Bell and the MMM "Foundation" - they're all the same basic org.

We know that Bob Barr effectively complained about illegal politics on the part of this mob back in '95. In 1999, the very first year Bell was chartered, Bell filed a Federal tax form in which they officially engaged in some limited lobbying. Click here to see the actual form they filed.

First problem, once Bell went even slightly political it probably became illegal for San Francisco to support 'em. Which explains why TF never explained Bell's (or the MMM's) existence to the hospital.

Second, Bell was one of the major forces behind the actual "million mom" march on DC early in 2000. They handled the logistics, printed up flyers and posters, arranged transportation, the works. I don't yet know the exact limits on political spending by a 501(c)(3) but odds are, Bell blew through the donation limits allowed by the above form in early 2000 like a deer rifle slug through a rabbit.

That led to the formation of two successor orgs to the Bell Campaign: the MMM Foundation tried to maintain their 501(c)(3) status as an "educational" foundation, and the MMM itself went to 501(c)(4). From the MMM website at:

http://millionmommarch.com/chapters/national/about/overviewmmm/ (overviewmmm.html)
An Overview

Who: We are a national grassroots, chapter-based organization dedicated to preventing gun death and injury and supporting victims and survivors of gun trauma. We are concerned community members. We have lost a loved one, survived an injury, or recognized that no one is immune to our national epidemic of gun death and injury. Like the majority of Americans, we favor stronger gun laws to protect our communities from gun-related trauma. We have come together to save lives by working for the adoption of stronger gun laws and to offer compassionate support to the victims and survivors of gun trauma.

What: In May 1999, The Bell Campaign, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, was created to accomplish the mission stated above. The Bell Campaign became the fiscal sponsor of the Million Mom March and worked with its founder, Donna Dees-Thomases, to implement this enormously successful event, held on May 14, 2000, which launched a powerful movement for sensible gun laws in America. On May 18, 2000, Donna and the other members of Board of Directors voted to re-name the organization the "Million Mom March Foundation."

The Million Mom March Foundation focuses on education and advocacy through grassroots activity across the country. Our primary national policy goal is to establish a system of licensing and registration for all handguns. We are working for safer communities by calling for strict oversight of the gun industry and responsible limits on gun access and use. A new 501 (c)4 lobbying organization, called the "Million Mom March," also was established so supporters can be directly involved in the political process and channel their passion into sustained activism. In addition, over the next three years we are developing a comprehensive youth-led gun trauma prevention program that will serve as a model for the nation.

Funny thing is, they never told the hospital or local government any of this. If they're going to do a new "youth-led gun trauma prevention program", they ought to be brought up on charges of corrupting the morals of minors if they teach 'em the same sort of fraud the "adults" are here pulling.

They also can't seem to keep their stories straight!

We know that Bell transitioned into some form of MMM in May of 2000. And we know that of the two current divisions of the MMM, it's the 501(c)(4) wing that runs the grassroots organization with local sub-chapters - the 501(c)(3) "MMM Foundation" could NOT run the local chapters.

Well in May of 2000, before the "www.millionmommarch.org" website even existed, Bell put up text describing the changeover - and it does NOT agree with the later text above:

From: http://www.thebellcampaign.com/mmm/bellbecomesmmm.htm (local mirror: bellbecomesmmm.html)

The Bell Campaign Becomes
the Million Mom March

The Bell Campaign has one hundred plus chapters around the country that as of yesterday are now Million Mom March Chapters. The board of directors of The Bell Campaign voted unanimously to merge the two organizations for the benefit of the movement. The Bell Campaign's legacy will live on through the bell as a symbol of freedom from gun trauma. The Bell Campaign's model is providing for instant structure and organization.

With that said, the Million Mom March is moving forward as the largest national grassroots organization in this country working for sensible gun laws.

May 2000

By this time they'd already created the "MMM Foundation", in fact this graphic is present on this page:



But the "Foundation" doesn't run the grassroots locals chapters. It can't. According to this, Bell was running the chapters as a 501(c)(3) with limited political abilities via the IRS 5768 form above...and rolled over into the 501(c)(4) MMM main political org in May of 2000. This is a radical violation of IRS regulations...and by the time they put up the MMM page, they realized it and changed stories.

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Fun With PRARs: what the hospital thought was going on...

First PRAR Request

On Wednesday, February the 21st of 2001, local RKBA activist Nadja Adolf and myself hand-delivered a Public Records Act Request (California state version of the Federal FOIA) to a member of the hospital administration by the name of Angela Carmen.

PUBLIC RECORDS ACT REQUEST

Dear Angela Carmen,

This is a request for information made pursuant to the California Public Records Act, James March hereby requests copies on paper or in electronic form of any sort of the following information:

1) Details on how much office space is currently being devoted to the organizations known as "The Bell Campaign" and/or "The Million Mom March" on property owned by or managed by SF General Hospital. The number of rooms and approximate sizes of each will be sufficient, we don't need square inches.

2) A list of all employees, volunteers or other individuals who have hospital access because of their involvement with either of the two orgs listed in query #1.

3) A list of all hospital staff who also work on the staffs of either of the two orgs listed in query #1.

4) Details of any lease agreement with either of the two orgs listed in query #1.

5) Copies of any documents from either of the two orgs listed in query #1 that establishes their charitable and/or tax-exempt status pursuant to 501(c)3 or similar tax codes.

Dated: 2/21/01

James March _____(signed)__

(contact info, email, phone, snail mail address)

First PRAR Response

Angela promptly faxed me her response, dated February 22, 2001. Click here to read the letter. Here are the salient points as responses to the above numbered requests:

1) Trauma Foundation occupies approximately 7,450 square feet of space. Do not know how much is occupied by MMM or Bell Campaign.

2) I don't have this information. You will need to inquire directly with the Foundation.

3) I don't have this information. You will need to inquire directly with the Foundation.

4) No lease with either organization.

5) I don't have this information. Please inquire directly with the Foundation.


Translation

Well isn't that special?

At the time I wrote the PRAR, I didn't know who TF was. That's OK - the hospital had no clue who Bell or MMM was.

A couple of phone calls to Angela proved entertaining. She found the MMM website on her own and was quite surprised to find a ton of politics plus the hospital's mailing address on the bottom of every page, including the obvious politics such as putting Bush AG nominee Ashcroft in the "time out corner". (Her inquiries led to Ashcroft being replaced in said corner by Eddie Eagle, the NRA's youth gun safety measure described by the mommies as "Joe Camel with feathers".)

Second PRAR Request

I felt that a follow-up PRAR was in order. So my second attempt was as follows:

PUBLIC RECORDS ACT REQUEST

Dear Angela Carmen,

This is a request for information made pursuant to the California Public Records Act, James March, hereby request copies on paper or in electronic form of any sort of the following information:

1) Details of any lease or rental agreement with the organization known as the "Trauma Foundation" or any other group or charitable organization located on the 3rd floor of building #1 of your facility. If there are hospital departments on that floor, please list their names. If space is being given free to the Trauma Foundation or other non-hospital orgs on that floor, please note that as an alternative to providing lease/rental details.

2) Copies of any documents from the Trauma Foundation or any other orgs for which you provide information in query #1 that establishes their charitable and/or tax-exempt status pursuant to 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4) or similar tax codes.

3) Any documents in the hospital's possession that indicates the purposes that the organization(s) on that third floor are supposed to be engaged in.

4) The name of the office manager or other person within the Trauma Foundation who is the hospital's business contact, and their phone number.

5) The name, title and phone number of the person within hospital administration whose decision it is to continue leasing/renting/giving space to the organization(s) on the 3rd floor of building #1 on your grounds.

Dated: 2/22/01

James March

Second PRAR Response

Angela answered promptly, in a letter dated March 2, 2001. Click here to read the actual letter. Here are the basic responses to the above numbered requests for information:

1) There are no other hospital buildings on the 3rd floor of Building 1. There is no lease agreement with the Trauma Foundation. At this time, The Trauma Foundation is not paying rent.

2) We have no such documents.

3) We have no such documents.

4) Eric Gorovitz, Director of Policy, Trauma Foundation/MMM 415-821-8209

5) Gene O'Connell, Executive Administrator, San Francisco General Hospital, is the final word in all hospital business. 415-206-3455.

Translation:

"We thought TF was the sole occupant until you alerted us to trouble, we have no clue what TF is doing in there, we don't charge 'em rent, and we just found out TF and the MMM are really just the same group...OOOPS".

Ya, big oops. This hospital is chronically under funded, one of the busiest in the nation, and they've been ripped off since at least 1995 and never did the slightest oversight on a group that turns out to have a budget of $5.5million back in '99 and is able to pay an accountant $70,000/yr.

Somebody needs to get severely slapped upside the wallet.

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Remedies

Our primary, initial concern is the rip-off of a public hospital well-known for charitable works, and equally known for being chronically under funded. The SF General AIDS program is world-famous as a model in the field, they've been at "ground zero" of the epidemic from day one.

This TF/Bell/MMM gang needs to pay back rent to the hospital, at a minimum. Just how far back may become a matter for the courts. My initial thoughts are that there's four possible known dates where the TF/Bell/MMM crew could reasonably be seen as "starting the fraud":

1) The oldest date would be whenever TF published the materials that Bob Barr complained to the CDC about in '95. My source says it was approximately '93. TF published an obvious grassroots activism pamphlet using a CDC grant. We know which CDC grant number it was (see also the Barr letters), so we could find out via FOIA when CDC handed out that money.

2) In 1995, in response to a complaint by Barr, CDC rescinded grant money already given to TF. They agreed that TF had spend CDC money on politics. I assume a decent case can be made that TF should have got the hell out of the hospital at this point?

3) In May of '99, the new Bell Campaign filed a Federal tax statement 5768, which basically allows a 501(c)(3) to do limited grassroots and lobbying politics. I believe an even stronger case can be made that this should have cut them off from free local gov't support?

4) Finally, in May of 2000 the main "MMM" went 501(c)(4). An ironclad case can be made that this should have cut them off from free gov't handouts, but we know from the previous hospital PRAR responses that the TF/Bell/MMM crowd never told SF General about this.

At a minimum, back-rent to May of 2000 is in order. I think May of '99 (#3 above) is more reasonable, and if I was suing over this crap as a taxpayer demanding redress, I'd go all the way back to #1 (1993, or whenever the CDC grant was misused). If the exact date of that is unclear, well, we know from the CDC letter of '95 exactly when CDC told TF they'd done illegal politics.

And above all, KICK 'EM OUT. These con artists are using the "government hospital address" to enhance their credibility - and their proven history of fraud, cover-up and conflicting stories means they cannot be trusted to remove "only the politics" from the hospital grounds. Only a total eviction will suffice.

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FINAL THOUGHTS: The Future

From the MMM's "Mother's Day plans" page we get their latest plans for rallies at state capitols across the nation...legislators need to know before then just what kind of crooks these "mothers" are:

http://millionmommarch.com/chapters/national/whats_new/statehouse/ (MMMDay.html)

ONE YEAR LATER, THE MILLION MOM MARCH IS COMING TO A STATE HOUSE NEAR YOU

Grassroots Muscle of Million Moms to Focus on the States

Click here to see a list of events.

CONTACT: Paul Bendix, 415-821-8200, Jill Greenberg , Tommy McDonald 415-255-1946

San Francisco -- February 14, 2001 - Building on the success of last year’s Mother’s Day event, the Million Moms will converge on state capitols across the nation, demanding state and local legislators work towards sensible gun laws. The mothers and others will be rallying in state capitols and major cities across America on May 13, 2001 calling for common sense gun legislation. On May 14, 2001 they will be paying a visit to local lawmakers.

“Last Mother’s Day, the Million Mom March was born, but our work has just begun. In the past year, America has seen more school shootings, more guns in schools, more workplace carnage and more gun violence on our streets,” said Mary Leigh Blek, National President of the Million Mom March. “We believe the way to change attitudes and laws is to do it at the grassroots level. A march on Washington calls attention to an issue, but real change begins at home, in our cities and states.”

Last year’s Mother’s Day events brought together over 750,000 people on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and in 73 other cities across the country to call for sensible gun laws to protect our children. Those efforts marked the turning point in America’s infatuation with guns. Since that time, the Moms have actively supported legislation and candidates throughout the country and helped make sensible gun laws a mainstream issue at the state and local level.

Plans for May 13 include state capitol rallies from Honolulu to Boston, and events in many towns and cities. Along with Mother’s Day rallies on the steps of state capitols, Moms will host bell ringing in memory of those lost to gun trauma, speakers, kids' art, entertainers, picnics and legislative letter-writing. On Monday, May 14, Moms will meet with local lawmakers to discuss sensible gun legislation.

Meeting with elected officials, Moms will discuss proposals to fight the scourge of interstate gun trafficking, repeal concealed carry laws, mandate trigger locks on handguns and require gun show background checks.

“The Million Mom March has grown into a grassroots movement, with over 240 chapters across the country,” said Andrew McGuire, Executive Director of the Million Mom March. “It provides a voice for the once silent majority of Americans who no longer want our nation’s children to grow up in fear of having their lives cut short by gun violence. “

“This will be a celebration, a remembrance and a call to action. If you marched last year, do it again,” said Blek. “If you didn’t, join us this year. We need to cry out in one loud voice that we love our children more than the gun lobby loves its guns.”

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MMM is Shutting Down?!

On 3/11/01 the New York Times published an article on the current state of gun control efforts, and quotes MMM sources as saying that "30 out of 35 staffers of the MMM are being laid off as of 3/9/01". The "casualties" include Andrew McGuire, original founder of TF. Written by James Dao, relevant bits include:

"It was a strikingly muted response from a movement that, less than a year ago, thought it had finally reached the gates of political power. "You are the future now," declared Sarah Brady of Handgun Control, Inc., to the hundreds of thousands at the Million Mom March. "We must either change the minds of lawmakers on these issues or, for God's sake, this November let's change the lawmakers."

But the laws didn't change, and neither did many of the lawmakers. Instead, a strongly anti-gun control governor was elected president. The euphoria of last year's march is a distant memory (one of its offshoots, the Million Mom organization, laid off 30 of its 35 employees on Friday) and the gun control movement, despite far-ranging efforts to match the National Rifle Association in raw political power, seems to have fallen farther behind."

[snip]

""We're 10 months old," said Andrew McGuire, the group's executive director, just before he was laid off. "The N.R.A. is over 100 years old."

The rest of the article takes a tone of "the big bad NRA and Bush are kicking our butts..."

As of 3/13/01, the TF/Bell/MMM websites were still up but nobody answers their phones.

Well lesseee here. The hospital found out, circa 2/26/01 due to my queries, that the TF was illegally supporting hardcore politics on the hospital's dime, without bothering to inform the hospital.

It appears that the hospital has served the whole crooked mob the boot...so they dropped a press release to a friendly reporter in "Billary County" blaming the cutbacks on politics.

The hospital isn't talking about what changes are really being made. A follow-up visit seems in order...stay tuned.

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(Note: the "local mirror filenames" are what we'll link to if the TF/Bell/MMM websites start coming down as part of the cover-up...for the moment, they're not linked.)


Related Reading on the "Million" Mom March

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