It's Nice to Give When the Folks You Give to Don't Receive

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An intriguing but complicated story from the Austin American Statesman is worth a read. All the t's aren't crossed and the i's aren't dotted yet, but it looks like Tom DeLay and Abramoff could be in trouble with the IRS. The gist of the story is:

*The Capital Athletic Foundation, a charity run by Abramoff, told the IRS that it gave away more than $330,000 in grants in 2002, but none of the charities contacted by the newspaper knew anything about the money they supposedly received. "That's so weird. Why would (Abramoff) even know us?" Debra Kahn, director of the Waldorf School in Atlanta, one of the listed grantees told the paper. "The interesting thing about it is if we had a grant it would have been an unsolicited one because we weren't writing grant proposals back then. We're in the process of getting accredited, so we really can't qualify for a lot of foundation grants anyway."

*An IRS spokesman, without commenting on the particular case, confirmed that charities that misrepresent tax return information risk losing their nonprofit status, and in severe cases, can find themselves under criminal investigation.

*DeLay could be drawn into the mix because of an email conversation between his former chief of staff, Tony Rudy, who became Abramoff's lobbying partner, and Abramoff. In this 2002 exchange, Abramoff said that DeLay wanted Capital Athletic to raise some money for him for an unspecified purpose. Abramoff names the figure of $200,000 as a fundraising goal. DeLay's lawyer says the lawmaker "does not remember" making the request.

*In 2003, DeLay's short-lived charity Celebrations for Children received $300,000 in seed money. None of the emails uncovered say where this $300,000 came from; nor would DeLay's lawyer say whether DeLay's charity received the money from Capital Athletic, telling the paper "there was not enough time to track the information down."

*The article notes that federal law prohibits members of Congress from "requesting 'anything of value' from anyone seeking official action from the House or doing business in the House. Lobbyists in particular should not be solicited."