July 14, 2010; Source: Washington Examiner | Is it just that some people forget that when they are in the public spotlight they are subject to more scrutiny than ordinary citizens, or do they somehow think rules don’t apply to them? A case in point comes from the Washington Examiner, which reports that Rushern Baker, a candidate for the job of Prince Georges County executive, runs a nonprofit group that’s now under investigation by Maryland officials for failing to report on the charity’s financial conditions for the past three years.
The last time the group, Community Teachers Institute Inc., filed papers with the state, the organization showed it had a 2006 deficit of $500,000. A closer review of tax filings with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) shows that the organization was hardly struggling to raise money. Between 2004 and 2006 it took in about $1.8 million but spent more than $2.3 million. The bulk—$1.5 million—covered payroll, taxes and benefits, leaving only $123,750 in what IRS returns report as direct funding to students and teachers.
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Those forms also show that Baker’s annual pay is $100,000, with his associate annual director earning $90,000 a year, while the group’s finance director received between $35,000 and $56,000 for the period reviewed. Although a campaign aid claimed earlier this week that the group filed the missing documents with the state, Richard Morris, charities director for the Secretary of State’s Office, said he hadn’t seen anything yet.
The charity received letters in 2007, 2008, and 2009, telling it the reports were due and failing to file was a violation of state law. Said Morris, “Our goal is to have finances available so when taxpayers are solicited for money, we can tell them how much these organizations are raising and spending. This raises a major red flag.” Or more like a flag flapping in the wind.—Bruce Trachtenberg