Saturday, January 16, 2016

BOE candidate files complaint with IRS over nonprofit 'political' email

(UPDATE: Tullock responds to the complaint)

Knox County school board candidate Jennifer Owen has filed a “Tax-Exempt Organization Complaint (Referral) Form” with the Internal Revenue Service regarding an email sent by Laurens Tullock, President of the Cornerstone Foundation of Knoxville, according to a news release.

MORE: The email in question

As a non-profit organization it is a violation of Internal Revenue Service regulations to endorse political candidates, Owens states. She noted that on Jan. 5, Tullock sent an email that endorsed three candidates (including her opponent),that she says violates these regulations because it was sent through Cornerstone's email service and contained Mr. Tullock’s official Cornerstone signature information.

Additionally, Tullock sent this email to the Chairman of the Knox County Board of Education, Doug Harris and to Jamie Woodson, President of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) where Tullock serves on the Steering Committee with Dr. James McIntyre, Superintendent of Knox County Schools, according to the release.

Owen feels the email requesting support and donations is a violation of IRS rules regarding political involvement.

If all recipients complied with the request to fund one or more of these candidates, the amount involved in these three political races could be between $45,000 and $270,000, she says.

After Tullock was called out by The Shopper's Betty Bean, he apparently responded on Knoxviews, a local political blog. You can read his response RIGHT HERE.

MORE: Bean's column

In her release, Owen says: 
"Despite his admission to endorsing these candidates and the admission that it was somehow also posted on West High School PTSO's Facebook page (another non-profit, Mr. Tullock's defense of the email falls flat. He says that he may endorse candidates as an individual and that the email sent from Cornerstone's account was an error. However, his very formal, business signature, including his assistant’s contact information, is not the kind of thing one uses when sending personal emails."

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