Profiting from a Nonprofit Status, Thanks to Abramoff

According to a report by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, "five conservative nonprofit organizations, including one run by prominent Republican Grover Norquist, 'appear to have perpetrated a fraud' on taxpayers by selling their clout to lobbyist Jack Abramoff." The nonprofits are Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, Citizens Against Government Waste, the National Center for Public Policy Research, and Toward Tradition. The Senate report finds the groups probably violated their tax-exempt status, "by laundering payments and then disbursing funds at Mr. Abramoff's direction; taking payments in exchange for writing newspaper columns and press releases that put Mr. Abramoff's clients in a favorable light; introducing Mr. Abramoff's clients to government officials in exchange for payment; and agreeing to act as a front organization for congressional trips paid for by Mr. Abramoff's clients." Clients benefiting include Microsoft and Primedia's Channel One. Norquist's attorney countered that "there is no 'abuse' of ATR's tax status," as long as funds are spent in keeping with the mission of Americans for Tax Reform.