Archive

No Charities Found

Thank Goodness the folks on Facebook are on the ball.

After publishing my piece two days ago commenting on the news that the tax-exempt status of Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson’s nonprofit charity “Moving Trenton Together” (MTT) had been revoked last Spring by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), readers rushed to set me straight on one major point I’d made. In my piece, I had stated that the particular nonprofit 501(c)(3) status and the dollar-volume size of MTT would have required the annual on-time filing of a Form 990-N to the IRS by Mr. Jackson. Also known as an “E-Postcard” form, the information I stated that MTT would have to file each year amounted to little more than a name and address.

Trentonian Iana Dikidjieva set me straight on Facebook. Not true, she said. Since Moving Trenton Together had been organized as a “Private Foundation” nonprofit, that meant that the organization was obligated to file a Form 990-PF on a timely annual basis. That 13-page form requires a good deal more information, as you can see below from a screenshot of Page 1:

form 990-pfPoint taken! And thank you, Iana. The effort required to properly prepare this form is extensive, and will take time, as Mr. Jackson explained when he spoke with Trentonian reporter David Foster last week. So I will grant him that.

However, another point that Ms. Dikidjieva made on Facebook tends to reinforce the main point of my Saturday post: that Mr. Jackson’s explanation of the timeline surrounding his foundation is not factually correct. On Saturday, she wrote:

Small orgs CAN file the full 990, and the full 990 really is long and confusing and you CAN make mistakes with it.

HOWEVER, the nonprofit’s status got automatically revoked. This happens when you fail to file AT ALL. Filing with mistakes is not failing to file. It may require you to resubmit stuff, but that’s not failing to file. The IRS puts your org on the list his is on if they HAVE NOT HEARD FROM YOU AT ALL. [Some emphasis mine - KM]

So if they tried to do the full 990 and ran into trouble, which is possible and I do sympathize (most orgs do have to do the full 990 and someone may have told them ‘that’s the thing you do’!), whatever they did did not get to the IRS.

It’s very possible that “whatever they did did not get to the IRS” once or twice. Stuff happens. But for three years straight?!?! That strains credibility.

As do Mr. Jackson’s statements to the Trentonian that “With the filing, you get an initial couple years to file it. We had attempted to do it internally. There were some errors with it. It came back rejected and we didn’t get it back timely.” You DON’T get “an initial couple of years” to file; you must file in the first year of a charity’s organization. And if a filing “came back rejected” it would, as Ms. Dikidjieva stated, NOT have led to the IRS yanking tax-exempt status. If something is rejected, it means you at least filed SOMETHING. It is increasingly clear that Mr. Jackson has filed NOTHING in the last three years. If his statements about this are – from all the available evidence – wrong, can we also trust his assurance to Mr. Foster that “there’s not any improprieties” with this organization?

Not as of now.

For further evidence that there is very little -  if any – about Moving Trenton Together that is legit and proper, look to records on file (or not, as it turns out!) with the State of New Jersey. Thanks to research done by former Trenton resident Jim Carlucci, we can see that Mr. Jackson and his organization failed to comply with state regulations as well.

When one goes to this page on the NJ State Division of Community Affairs webpage, and enters “Moving Trenton Together” in the Search field, the search returns a “No Charities Found” message, indicating that there is not even a registration for the charity with the State:

nj charities

For a comparison, try entering “Mayor Palmer.” You will see this information:

nj charities 3

You can see that “Mayor Palmer’s Trenton First Initiative Inc,” created during Doug Palmer’s time in office, is both registered with the State and currently compliant with all operating  and reporting regulations.

Want one more example? Well, for grins and giggles, you can try entering the name “Tony Mack.” Come on, I know you can’t help yourself.

Surprise:

nj charities 2

It turns out that the “Tony Mack Cares Foundation” was properly registered with the NJ Division of Community Affairs. However, it is not currently compliant with state rules because, well…

So, Tony Mack was more conscientious regarding state regulations than Eric Jackson?!?! Well, in this regard, yes. Yes, he was. Go chew on that a while.

And, just in case you need any further evidence, here’s the current status of the NJ Business Registration for Moving Trenton Together:

moving trenton together nj revoke

Yep: On July 16 of this year, its business status in NJ was “REVOKED FOR NOT FILING ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2 CONSECUTIVE YEARS.”

Yikes!

In the grand scheme of things, “Moving Trenton Together” is really nothing but a footnote in the story of the last three years of Eric Jackson’s mayoralty. It was never a large organization, and wasn’t engaged in any crucial irreplaceable charity work in the city of Trenton.

But the story of this charity is greatly illuminating of the character of the man who has been Mayor of Trenton for the last three years. The story of the utter neglect of the bare minimum of compliance with state and Federal tax and business regulations for over three years is of the same pattern as many other incidents in Eric Jackson’s career. To review just a few of them once more:

  • Eric Jackson has also failed – for three years each time after two separate political campaigns four years apart – to file legally required campaign finance reports with the State of New Jersey.
  • Eric Jackson oversaw eight months of receipt of dozens of delinquency and warning notices from the IRS and the State about payroll tax irregularities, which should have tipped him and his administration to the fact that $5 Million Dollars was being stolen in slow motion over several months in 2015. And when this theft finally came to light in early 2016, Mr. Jackson in his few public statements on the matter repeatedly provided information that proved to be entirely incorrect. I have gone as far as to say he and other city official lied, repeatedly. Nothing we have learned since leads me to change my judgment from two years ago.
  • Eric Jackson did not publicly reveal that the City was losing $3.3 Million in Federal funding until that fact was revealed in this space, five months after the fact.
  • Eric Jackson and his Administration came under heavy criticism throughout Mercer County last month for failing to inform Trenton Water Works customers of water quality problems, other than with a single, uninformative letter to the utility’s customers countywide. That criticism includes the introduction in the NJ Assembly of legislation that would require folks like Mr. Jackson to do what they failed to do on their own last month: provide timely and relevant information to their customers about matters involving the public safety of their water supply.

There are at least two statements over the last few years made by Mayor Jackson that absolutely can be taken at face value. The more recent one came in David Foster’s story last week: “[W]e’re not timely into filing.” The other came in an article last year about the appointment of the mayor’s sister to a position with the Trenton Housing Authority. Denying he exercised any undue influence in that appointment, he said, “I’m a hands-off guy like that.”

Is this the kind of guy who deserves another term as Trenton’s Mayor? Hell,no!!!

But right now, in September, it’s not very likely that many Trenton voters are paying much attention to the upcoming city elections next May. There’s a lot going on right now on the state and national level that demands attention on a daily basis. Man-made and natural disasters compete for eyeballs at such a rapid pace it’s hard to keep up. For instance, who’s even had a chance to think about the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas over the last week, while Irma marched through the Caribbean archipelago and up the Florida peninsula? I can’t blame Trenton’s electorate for mostly ignoring local politics.

But now is the time that candidates for Mayor and Council – presumably including Eric Jackson – are planning their campaigns and reaching out to supporters for contributions and volunteer work. These are the people, both inside Trenton and elsewhere in New Jersey and surrounding areas, who are paying attention. They are opening their checkbooks, or deciding to whom they will open them, and weighing endorsements.

They include the private citizens, and union locals, and Democratic Party organizations, and law firms, and contractors who gave money and time to Eric Jackson’s campaigns in 2010 and 2014. They include other public officeholders and local clergy who have made donations or who offered campaign endorsements

They may have even continued to donate money to Jackson since 2014; if so, we have no way of knowing, since Jackson hasn’t filed a single report since November 2014!

It’s all of these people in particular who I hope have been paying close attention over at least some of the last three years to the record that Eric Jackson has been writing as Trenton’s mayor.

It’s all of these people who I hope will realize that all of their donations, and effort, and endorsements, have gone to support a man who repeatedly fails to comply with – or even to show basic respect for – campaign law, business regulations, tax regulations, or municipal management.

To me it’s not about whether the man or those around him are criminally corrupt. I have no particular reason to believe he may be, but as I wrote the other day his multiple failures and silences and lies when he does speak have ruined whatever residual credibility he may have had left. We can no longer accept his assurances of personal integrity unless he provides us – after three years of failure to do so – written and audited proof of financial integrity with his charity and his campaign.

It’s all of these people who I hope will re-evaluate their support of this man, and conclude as I have, that Eric Jackson is not what Trenton needs for four more years.


Comments are closed.