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No Laughing Matter

moving trenton revocation

Thanks to Trenton alumnus (and now Hamilton’s own) Jim Carlucci, we see from the above screenshot that the non-profit organization “Moving Trenton Together,” founded by Trenton’s Mayor Eric Jackson in 2014, had its 501(c)(3) non-profit status revoked by the Internal Revenue Service last month. As you can read above, this status “was automatically revoked for its failure to file a Form 990-series return or notice for three consecutive years.” [Emphasis mine - KM]

The delinquency of Mr. Jackson’s charity has been known at least since last December, when it was revealed in reporting by The Trentonian’s David Foster:

During a phone interview with The Trentonian on Tuesday, Jackson claimed the tax return — called a Form 990 — was submitted last year.

“It’s not an annual, but I think it was done last year,” the mayor said. “I think we did one at the end of last year if I’m not mistaken, but I’ll check. I’m almost sure we did because I remember the name of the form. I’ll let you know.”

However, the mayor never returned a request for comment about the information on Wednesday, despite letting the newspaper know he would respond late Tuesday or Wednesday morning.

He never responded. Not to Mr. Foster, nor to the public, nor – as we can see now – the IRS. And in return, the IRS has pulled his tax exemption.

Readers of this space know that I have needled the mayor repeatedly on this, as recently as last week, but also last February, and back in December when Foster’s Trentonian piece first ran. Each time, I called the Mayor on this as well as many other of his many, many false steps, but in a (hopefully) mildly humorous and snarky way.

No more.

After this action by the IRS, we can likely expect that “Moving Trenton Together” is dead as a local Trenton entity. But, that leaves three years of financial activity undisclosed. Three years of unknown contributions. Three years of unknown expenses.

Taken alongside Eric Jackson’s similar three-year failure to file legally-required quarterly campaign finance reports with the NJ Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC), we now are faced with a three-year blank hole where transparent financial disclosure should be.

We have no way of knowing – frankly – that Eric Jackson has not used his charity and his campaign for who knows what kind of financial shenanigans.

And after three full years of utterly ignoring the public’s right to know about these things – as required by law -  I don’t believe Mr. Jackson any longer deserves the benefit of the doubt as to his integrity.

It is now incumbent on him to prove to the public that he has NOT used either or both of his charities and his campaign as vehicles for inappropriate transactions.

He needs to prove that his contributions are all legal, and that his contributors have no conflict of interest with the City of Trenton.

He needs to prove that his expenses are legitimate, and supported by accurate and complete documentation.

And he needs to publicly prove that any financial reports and statements he releases at this very late date are accurate. The only way he can do that at this point is by ensuring that any such statements and reports are independently audited.

With this latest development, Eric Jackson has once more demonstrated that he has failed the promise he made to Trenton’s voters four years ago. I return, once more, to a column he wrote in March 2014 for the Trenton Times. In this piece, he presented himself as The Ethical Candidate for Mayor, who would restore trust to City government after the criminal corruption of Tony Mack. He promised us,

Most important, the next mayor has to lead by example. Municipal government is only as strong, ethical and transparent as its leader.

The mayor must make it clear to every employee working for the city and its independent agencies that there is zero tolerance for corruption, personal enrichment or dishonesty.

After the last three years – three years of failure to file his tax returns, which has now led to the loss of IRS tax exemption; and three years of failure to file a single ELEC campaign report; after three years of utter silence and non-disclosure, Eric Jackson cannot prove that he has not used his position for “corruption, personal enrichment or dishonesty.”

The burden of proof is much higher for an elected mayor of three years’ tenure than it was for a civilian candidate in 2014. He was able to say “Ooops” back then to explain his previous three-year failure to file campaign reports. It’s much harder, if not impossible, to make excuses now. Especially since he sits in an office whose previous elected mayor still sits in Federal prison for extortion and financial crimes.

Eric Jackson is in the big leagues now. There are no excuses for this.

Of course, he will likely claim that he is, at heart, an honest and upright man.

After three years of nothing from him, I for one no longer believe him.

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