Castle America: N.Y. Can Subpoena VDARE’s Records Related to Alleged Financial Self-Dealing by Nonprofit Directors
From People v. VDARE Foundation, Inc., decided yesterday by New York trial court judge Sabrina Kraus:
Respondent [VDARE] is a New York charitable not-for-profit [and tax-exempt] corporation that incorporated in New York in 1999….
In its application for federal tax-exempt status, Respondent stated its plan to operate from offices in New York and listed two of its four directors at addresses in New York City. Respondent described its primary purpose as creating a publication web page and magazine, with editorial content focusing on foreign and domestic policy issues.
In 2019, Respondent reported a six-fold increase in revenue, from $700,000 in 2018 to approximately $4.3 million in 2019 and including a $1.5 million lump donation from a donor-advised fund. In early 2020, Respondent spent $1.4 million of these newly received funds on the purchase of the Berkeley Springs Castle, a medieval-style castle located in West Virginia.
Public postings by Respondent Chairman Peter Brimelow and others indicate that he and his family have used the castle as their primary residence since at least March 2020. During this same period, Respondent also substantially increased payments to Brimelow and to third-party, for-profit companies he controls. In 2019, Brimelow’s reported salary more than doubled and comprised roughly one third of Respondent’s operating expenditures. Respondent separately reported spending tens of thousands of dollars on office expenses in 2019, as well as paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to a third-party LLC controlled by Brimelow that was based at Brimelow’s residential home address.
In December 2020, Respondent conveyed the entirety of the Berkeley Springs Castle property to two West Virginia corporations incorporated by Lydia Brimelow, Peter’s wife and a Respondent director, five months earlier. Respondent conveyed the castle itself and the land that it sits on to the Berkeley Castle Foundation (BCF), a non-profit corporation. Respondent conveyed the remaining land, consisting of eight parcels, to BBB, LLC, a for-profit corporation.
Based on the information it had obtained, the Attorney General began an investigation of Respondent and its leadership for potential violations of the New York law applicable to charities. The Subpoena seeks: documents concerning Respondent’s organizational structure; compliance conflict-of-interest policy requirements under New York law, and financial op
Article from Reason.com