Who Is “I Am Created Equal?”

I-am-created-equal-logo

As the Denver Post's Kurtis Lee reports today, newly filed spending disclosures reveal over $55,000 from a "Colorado Springs-based" (as characterized in most media reports) 501(c)(4) organization called I Am Created Equal to fund a paid petition drive to place a recall of Senate President John Morse on the ballot sometime later this year:

The organization, I Am Created Equal, bankrolled the organizers of an effort to recall Morse, a Democrat, with about $42,500 in May. That’s up from the $14,000 the organization supplied The El Paso Freedom Defense Committee — the group spearheading the Morse recall for his support of stricter Colorado gun laws — in April.

Much of this money has gone toward paying petitioners to gather 7,178 signatures ahead of Monday’s deadline. The group submitted more than double that figure Monday and is confident the secretary of state’s office in the next week will verify the signatures and in turn spark a recall election that could come as soon as September.

As a "501(c)(4)" organization under the tax code, I Am Created Equal is not required to disclose its donors. We had always suspected that the total amount required for this petition drive would be much higher than the $14,000 already reported, but we are perhaps a little surprised that the donations weren't spread out among a few organizations–or something to make this one nonprofit group, I Am Created Equal, less than solely responsible for getting this recall successfully to the ballot as they apparently have.

Because based on publicly available records, I Am Created Equal is anything but "grassroots." 

IACEhackstaff

I Am Created Equal, like so many shady Republican-leaning interest groups in Colorado today, was incorporated via the Hackstaff Law Group, 1601 Blake Street, Denver. Here's the nonprofit Articles of Incorporation for the group, including the representation agreement from none other than our good friend Mario Nicolais!

And here is the "advisory board" for Carno's "grassroots conservative women's" organization:

IACEboard

From left, that's former Republican National Committee member Mark Hillman, longtime GOP campaign operative Shari Williams, and failed 2006 gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez. We'll give them credit for including at least one woman among the three members of this "women's group's" advisory board, but there's nothing "grassroots" about Shari Williams.

And folks, to suggest Mark Hillman, or especially "Both Ways" Bob Beauprez are "grassroots" figures is a joke. Beauprez's connection to this recall effort could be a particularly interesting side-story to this recall if he, as has been widely speculated, makes a run for the U.S. Senate next year against Mark Udall.​

However it plays out, make no mistake–far from a "grassroots" movement, the same GOP usual suspects we've been writing about in this space for years have purchased this recall election against John Morse.

43 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. DavieDavie says:

    I suppose Doug Bruce wasn't interested, or he was a silent, silent partner.

  2. ArapaGOPArapaGOP says:

    SCANDAL! Not.

    First of all, Carno tells Eli Stokols that Beauprez and crew have no involvement in her group's decisions. Second, if they did, so what?? Is Beauprez disallowed from being politically involved?

    This is about overreach, not usual suspects. Democrats are going to pay.

  3. Old Time Dem says:

    An Astroturf conservative "women's" group with a board that is two-thirds men.  Sounds about par for the GOP course–and it's probably a grift.

  4. Old Time Dem says:

    BTW, it's website says it's a 527, not a 501(c)(4).

  5. skeptical citizen says:

    More "social welfare" nonsense.  Bring on IRS scrutiny! This should be a 527 with public disclosure of donors. I have a huge problem with the 501c4 shield of donor anonymity here.

    Here is the Wikipedia skinny: "501(c)(4) organizations are generally civic leagues and other corporations operated exclusively for the promotion of "social welfare", such as civics and civics issues, or local associations of employees with membership limited to a designated company or people in a particular municipality or neighborhood, and with net earnings devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes. An organization is operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare if it is primarily engaged in promoting the common good and general welfare of the people of the community. 501(c)(4) organizations may inform the public on controversial subjects and attempt to influence legislation relevant to its program and, unlike 501(c)(3) organizations, they may also participate in political campaigns and elections, as long as its primary activity is the promotion of social welfare. However, 501(c)(4) organizations are not permitted direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of, or in opposition to any candidate for public office.]

     

    • The realistThe realist says:

      That last sentence does raise the question – how can a 501(c)4 be directly involved in opposition to a candidate they are working to subject to a recall election?  Someone more lawyerly than I can perhaps answer this.

       

  6. ElliotFladenElliotFladen says:

    How do you define "grassroots"?

    • bullshit!bullshit! says:

      Like porn, I know it when I see it. And it ain't Bob Beauprez…

    • JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

      The Koch brothers. G to the R to the ASS.

    • "Grassroots" – an organization or campaign.built from the bottom up by activists.  "Astroturf" – an organization or campaign built from the top down (i.e. by a one or a few powerful interests) but that attempts to claim grassroots origins.

      Just for clarification and in response to JeffcoBlues…EMILY's List occupies a gray area; being founded by a group of 25 politically active women from DC it's not like they were "just anyone", but neither was it a front for some broader political agenda. MoveOn was definitely grassroots when it started – the effort of some computer geeks during the Clinton impeachment. ProgressNow was not grassroots, founded more as a think tank.

      "I Am Created Equal" is using its 501(c)4 status to fund a recall that has nothing to do with equality. It appears to be just another GOP front group that can spread the wealth anonymously to whatever GOP issue someone wants to fund.

      • ElliotFladenElliotFladen says:

        Problem is activists tend to get involved politically and have connected friends.  Meaning that the lines get very, very blurred.

        • Gray in Mountains says:

          so, activists preclude it being grassroots? wrong

        • Curmudgeon says:

          Actually, the line is pretty clear. They're hiding behind 501 (c) (4) status as a smokescreen, to conceal their donor(s), and conducting purely political activites that are unrelated to its stated purpose.

          Of course, anyone who plans to run for office on a GOP ticket is not going to say anything against Bob Beauperez, now is he?

          • ElliotFladenElliotFladen says:

            You are talking about something different than me.  I don't know tax law surrounding 501(c) organizations so I haven't broached that subject.

            • BlueCat says:

              Amazing, EF, how you can always find some very good reason to refuse to actually address a point. Too hot, too cold, point maker too rude, look over here at this other point I want to make, I'm not into tax law so can't speculate (though you  have no trouble speculating on why any given R couldn't possibly really be racist), before I answer that here's a homework assignment I want you to complete…. no matter what, the temperature is never just right enough for actually addressing the damn point.

              And no need to tell me. I understand this means I am once again to be spurned for being too terrible to have a discussion with. I won't even slam the door as I bid you adieu and take my leave.

               

        • It's not really hard to distinguish unless you're trying to obfuscate. A group of party leaders getting together to form a group to re-enforce one aspect of the party base/platform is Astroturf through and through. And it shows with "I Am Created Equal" in this case because they're spending money recalling an opposition politician even though the issue at hand (gun control) has nothing to do with their civic charter.

  7. sxp151 says:

    I guess these legal issues are important and all, and I'd like tax-exempt organizations to at least pretend to follow laws, but honestly I just can't focus on it. 

    I'm just too angry about the fact that "I am created equal" makes no sense mathematically. Equal to what? An object can be equal to itself trivially, but otherwise you need a collection of at least two objects to talk meaningfully about equality. That's why "All men are created equal" means something profound while "I am created equal" means roughly the same thing as 3=3.

    Gonna keep wishing for smarter conservatives, I guess.

  8. How much money overall has "I Am Created Equal" the 501(c)4 raised and spent? How much of that is on political campaigning? And, as has already been asked, how is this recall petition not a direct campaign against a candidate?

    This is a shining example of why the Tea Party groups currently whining in Washington about the IRS should not be allowed to have nice toys (like tax breaks).

    • BlueCat says:

      Grassroots or not is really beside your very good point. Non-lawyerly answer: Of course a recall petition against as a candidate is a political campaign.What else would it be? Perhaps, though, a lawyer could explain, in layman's terms, on what technical grounds a group funding such a recall campaign can still qualify as a 501(c) 4 group.

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