Thursday, February 15, 2007

I'm Not Running For Governor, But . . .


WISH-TV political reporter Jim Shella has an item on his blog today about a question he put to Advance America's Eric Miller about his intentions concerning the 2008 governor's race. Miller lost the 2004 GOP primary to Gov. Daniels by a wide margin. Here's what Shella has to say and Miller's response to his question:
I was watching conservative activist and former Republican candidate for governor Eric Miller pick off Republican lawmakers on their way to a House caucus this afternoon when I remembered that Miller made noises about challenging Mitch Daniels again in 2008 shortly after losing the GOP primary in 2004.

So I felt the need to ask, "Will you run again?"

"For what?" he answered. "Governor in 2008," I said.

Miller came back with a simple and direct, "No," then he reached out to grab another lawmaker.
So is that the end of the inquiry? If Miller is not planning to be a candidate, a good journalist would ask why "Hoosiers for Eric Miller", the campaign committee he formed for his 2004 gubernatorial campaign, is still an active committee with about $3,000 in the bank. If Miller is not planning to be a candidate, why is everything at his supposed nonprofit's website plastered with his name and picture? There's the "Eric Miller and Advance America's Citizens' Rally planned for March 27 at the State House. And There's the "Eric Miller's Repeal Property Taxes", which includes a personalized video of Miller explaining why Indiana's property tax should be repealed by a constitutional amendment. You'll also find plenty of information where Miller is plugging SJR-7, the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages, which Miller is fighting to get on the ballot in 2008.
Laying aside whether Miller will run for governor, he is keeping a network of religious right supporters in the loop on his lobbying activities at the State House as he has done every year for the past 25 years. His weekly news alerts include this request for donations:
In order to continue to serve as the eyes, ears and voice for the families and churches of Indiana, Advance America depends on the tax deductible contributions of individuals, families, and businesses around the state. Advance America receives NO government money. Your contribution will help us pay our expenses during the time the 2007 General Assembly is in session which could exceed $295,000.
Notice Miller tells you the contributions you make for his lobbying efforts are tax deductible. Miller's Advance America is organized as 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. It's really a political action committee for the religious right masquerading as a nonprofit organization. Miller candidly admits his lobbying expenses this year will exceed $295,000, most of which winds up in his pocket through his highly-paid executive position with Advance America and the lucrative six-figure legal contract his law firm has with the nonprofit. Miller's law firm shares office space with Advance America as well. In fact, if you visit their offices, you really can't distinguish his law office from the nonprofit's offices. When Miller reports his lobbying expenditures to the Indiana Lobby Registration Commission, he will report about 10% of that $295,000 figure as lobbying expenditures based upon his past practices. He has to keep that amount low in order to maintain the nonprofit status of Advance America.
If the abuse of his nonprofit status is not enough, get a load of the disinformation he's feeding his followers about an effort at lobbying reform which would target bogus nonprofits like his own organization. Here's what he has to say about HB 1551:
Bill would interfere with the right of a church or pastor to inform people in the church about important issues like abortion, homosexual marriages, crime and gambling. If the pastor speaks out in the community on these or other Biblical issues, the church would be required to be registered with the state as a Public Advocacy Organization.

The church would be required to provide confidential information to the state about those who contribute to the church, along with every date the pastor mentioned a Biblical issue affecting the community or state. The government should not interfere with the right of the pastor and the church to speak out on Biblical issues!

The bill would also impact other organizations including a Crisis Pregnancy Center, Christian school, rescue mission, business or company that speaks out on an issue.
What's really at the heart of HB 1551 is a desire to get at organizations like Advance America which report most of their lobbying expenditures as grassroots lobbying expenditures, and which are not reportable under Indiana's Lobby Law. A public benefit organization like Advance America, under IRS rules, is not supposed to engage in partisan politics or excessive lobbying activities. If Advance America were subject to the requirements of HB 1551, it would be forced to report all of its lobbying activities and be exposed for what it really is--a political action committee which serves no public benefit purposes. That would result in the IRS revoking its nonprofit status. But notice how Miller tries to hide behind the churches. HB 1551 is not about the churches. It's about him. Why the IRS hasn't shut down his operation is beyond me. Lord knows there's been plenty of complaints filed against him.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Download your bulletin inserts" ??

Is he serious with this?

How in the world could any IRS employee see that notation, and not instantly jerk the non-profit status?

Idiot.

Chris Douglas said...

Go get 'em, Gary.

And how about deconstructing James Bopp for us?

Anonymous said...

Why not put out a bounty on Bopp's sorry ass, like Bill did over on Bilerico for legislators who are, uh, disingenuine.

Bopp is easy:

Overinflated ego.

Maniacal.

Mouth overloads ass most of the time.

Hateful.

Intolerant.

As I am led to beleive, very bright, and devious.

As Dean Wurmer said in Animal House: "Let Wiedermier do it. He's a sneaky little shit."

Or Niedermier, or whatever.