The Clinton Foundation has been roiled by controversy. From tax returns that omitted tens of millions of dollars in ethically challenged foreign contributions, to the Foundation’s website that did list them but then also turned out not to. From high administrative and travel costs for the Clinton family, to sweetheart media coverage. Who doesn’t like George Stephanopoulos, even if he did forget to mention his own contributions while he was grilling others about theirs?
All in all, it’s been an excellent adventure that ties nicely into Mrs. Clinton’s extraordinary ease and grace in not deigning to talk about any of this. As a candidate for President, she is as slick as Rev. Al Sharpton. She glides above it. She did not have anything to do with that Foundation, which sounds a little like her husband’s famous line, ‘I did not have sex with that woman.’ She says none of this influenced her job as Secretary of State. Just look at her emails.
Oh, those were just personal and were deleted.she only used that personal email server so she could carry one device. It was just about convenience. What, Mrs. Clinton had four devices? Oops. She resigned from the Foundation’s board after she officially announced her Presidential run. And the past is the past. Upon becoming Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton promised that the Foundation would stop accepting donations from foreign governments. Oops. The acting CEO of the Foundation, posted a statement acknowledging the tax errors.
Extensive donations by foreign governments while Mrs. Clinton was Secretary of State are hard to explain. Keeping the embarrassing and conflict-triggering gifts quiet is harder still. Like that private email server. Even if there wasn’t any sleight of hand, it sure looks bad. The Foundation downplayed the errors, noting that the dollars from government sources were noted in the organization’s annual audited financial reports posted on its website.
Oops, not true, it turned out. There was an ethics agreement signed with the Obama administration in 2008 to limit such contributions. All of which brings to mind Reverend Sharpton, who is very good in a pinch. When he had his $4.5 million of tax liens, he claimed he paid them. Oh, they weren’t paid? This isn’t the first time his records did not line up with those of tax authorities.
Indeed, on two prior occasions, Rev. Sharpton suffered inconvenient fires that destroyed his records. Bad luck! It’s a little like the crash of Lois Lerner’s hard drive. Those fires destroyed Mr. Sharpton’s financial records just as he was about to turn them over to officials. And records are key to tax disputes. As Mr. Sharpton works though his tax problems with or without records, he appears to have a suit made of Teflon, even when it comes to taxes.
In 1993, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for failure to file a state tax return. His Raw Talent operation which he uses for speaking engagements has reportedly also had tax problems. But beyond these smidgens, Mr. Sharpton has never faced criminal tax-related charges. There is no question he has had trouble keeping his finances straight, and some people have alleged that he is all about the money.
He has been marvelously successful in explaining that he is simply in over his head. Mrs. Clinton cannot say that, but there is still would be a serendipity about their pairing. We may never get the full story of Hillary Clinton’s emails, or Lois Lerner’s for that matter. Both were savvy enough to be selective. Yet adding Al Sharpton to the clever trio somehow seems to fit.
Of course, his contribution may be more old-fashioned: fires that destroy tax records. In his own low tech way, Rev. Sharpton has managed to keep tax problems under raps that would be catastrophic for mere mortals. And similarly, perhaps we all will learn that no one in government knows how to use email except Hillary Clinton. As Mrs. Clinton’s remarkable e-mail drama is acted out, Al Sharpton seems a natural fit. In fact, not only should Rev. Sharpton think about applying for the top Clinton Foundation job. How about running the IRS too?
For alerts to future tax articles, follow me on Forbes. You can reach me at Wood@WoodLLP.com. This discussion is not intended as legal advice, and cannot be relied upon for any purpose without the services of a qualified professional.
via The Tax Lawyer http://ift.tt/1Ka8FZg