April 19, 2010; Associated Press | The 38,000 nonprofits registered to do business as charities in the state of Mississippi better believe it when the secretary of state Delbert Hosemann says the “check” is in the mail. Not money—but letters Hosemann is sending to check if each of these groups still deserve nonprofit status.
“Mississippians are the most charitable people in the country. We need to know these groups are doing right by them,” Hosemann said. Letters sent from Hosemann’s office will ask questions about fundraising and activities.
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So his election in 2007, Hosemann, a Republican, has pursued election law changes, land reforms, securities laws amendments and regulations governing burial contracts. He also helped draft a 2009 law that the AP reports “eased the regulatory burdens on charities but also strengthened the ability of the secretary of state office to enforce laws against dishonest charities.”
Changes to the law included bumping the threshold to $25,000 annually from $4,500 for charities to register with the state. The law also gave the secretary of state more power to go after charities believed to be in violation of state law. So far, Hosemann’s plans to validate the charitable purpose of the state’s nonprofits appear to be winning applause. Mark McCrary, executive director of the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits, said, “If somebody’s no longer operating for the public good, I think we need to probably take them off the books or make sure they comply with both the state and federal laws.” There’s no mention in the article about the cost to the state for Hosemann’s plans. But hopefully what he’s doing is on the money.—Bruce Trachtenberg