Trump-backing neocon’s group may have broken US law with donations to anti-Muslim Dutch politician
Neocon David Horowitz’ nonprofit the David Horowitz Freedom Center may have broken federal tax laws by donating to a radical Dutch far-right politician’s election campaign.
The Intercept’s Lee Fang reported Friday that by providing a series of grants to the People’s Party for Freedom (PVV) and bankrolling a speaking tour by its leader Geert Wilders, Horowitz — whose Freedom Center operates as a 501(c)3 — “may have violated IRS tax rules that prohibit tax-exempt charitable groups from funding overt political campaign activity.”
Fang spoke with tax officials who pointed out that Horowitz did not disclose his donations to Wilders and PVV on his tax returns. The donations only came to light because they were made public in the Netherlands.
“Records posted by the Dutch interior ministry show that in 2014 and 2015 the Freedom Center provided multiple donations totaling 126,354 euros — approximately $134,000 — to the ‘Stichting Vrienden van de PVV,’ or the Friends of the PVV Foundation, the fundraising arm of the party,” wrote Fang.
He continued, “The Friends of the PVV, a subsidiary group of the party, is the foundation used to solicit outside funds for Wilders, according to The Power of Populism, a book by historian Koen Vossen chronicling the rise of Wilders and his party. Go to the party’s website, and the ‘donate’ button takes you to a PayPal account for the Friends of the PVV.”
Michael Finch, the president of the Freedom Center, told Fang by phone that he would need to “do some research” to find out why the donations were not listed on the center’s taxes.
Leiden University political science professor Ruud Koole told Fang that the donations from Horowitz’ organization “does constitute funding for Wilders’s party” and that the six-figure sums “constitute a considerable amount of money from a single donor according to Dutch standards.”
PVV does not qualify for state electioneering funds because it is a political party controlled by a sole individual, Wilders. Fang explained, “Dutch law requires that political parties seeking state election subsidies must have at least 1,000 members.”
“All in all, the PVV has very little income. Therefore, the gift from the Freedom Center is relatively important,” Koole said.
Fang spoke to a number of experts, including former IRS chief counsel Philip Hackney and former IRS specialist in nonprofit organizations Marcus Owens. Both agreed that the donations are likely to violate the law.
“Failure to report, or report accurately, could thus trigger a range of penalties beginning with civil failure-to-file penalties to criminal penalties for conspiracy to defraud the United States and the making of false statements on tax returns,” said Owens.
Horowitz’ Freedom Center receives millions of dollars in grants and donations every year to spread its founder’s message that Islam is not a religion but a dangerous cult. He was a mentor to Stephen Miller, the White House aide who said that Pres. Donald Trump’s authority “should not be questioned” on issues of national security.