|In the wake of the MAA investigation requests, and after months of calls for MLPA to release the source of its funding for its Lansing lobbyist campaign against expanded aggregate mining that will help lower the cost of road construction, the MLPA today finally released a partial list of donors that confirms a small group of donors are likely fueling the 501(c)(3) being used to stop aggregate mining in Metamora.
Based on federal 990 forms released to the Detroit Free Press, about 70% of MLPA's funding from 2016-2018 came from only 17 households for a total of more than $190,000. The average donation from these top 17 donors during the 2016-2018 time period is a hefty $11,473.
MPLA thus far has declined to release the names of any other donors, and has not released its 2019 donors.
REQUEST FOR INVESTIGATION SAYS MLPA USING TAX-EXEMPT STATUS IMPROPERLY
“Despite stating that its mission is “Environmental Preservation Education”, we believe the MLPA was organized as a non-profit, tax-free entity by wealthy landowners and businesses solely for the purposes of funding litigation and legislative lobbying activities to promote their individual, personal interest of avoid a mine near their property, with tax-deductible donations,” said MAA President Doug Needham, who filed the complaints with the IRS and attorney general’s office.
“We believe these investigations should result with the MLPA’s tax-exempt status being revoked because being extensively involved in litigation and lobbying activities is simply not what a 501(c)(3) organization is supposed to do. A handful wealthy folks using non-profit and charity laws to fund a personal-interest campaign with tax-deducible “donations” is wrong,” Needham concluded.
U.S. INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE COMPLAINT
The MAA has filed a Form 13909 Complaint with the IRS indicating that the MLPA appears to have been organized solely for the personal benefit of a handful donors to stop aggregate mining near Metamora and therefore should have its non-profit status revoked.
MLPA has engaged in litigation and devoted significant resources to lobbying efforts at the state and local levels to influence zoning issues and state legislation. While MLPA states its purpose is “environmental education preservation”, the reality is its one goal since inception has been to stop a new aggregate mine in Metamora. In fact, its website says it was founded solely to stop one mine as opposed to conducting a broader educational effort.
While MLPA claims it is organized for environmental education purposes, that is false. Instead, MLPA’s own statements and published materials make clear it has hired attorneys and lobbyists with money provided through tax-deductible donations to fulfill its mission of stopping a new mine in Metamora, to the personal benefit of a few wealthy landowners and businesses in the area funding the effort.
Additionally, the complaint makes clear that MLPA’s request for a Michigan Office of Auditor General investigation of the Michigan Department of Transportation essentially constitutes a lobbying activity that violates its tax-exempt status since its only goal appears to be to defeat a single mine. And, in its propaganda, MLPA makes false claims that up to 600 trucks would be rolling through Metamora and that a proposed water well to wash dirt off of mined aggregates, per MDOT road building standards, would be a threat to increase drinking water pollution.
As the complaint reads, “An organization formed for educational purposes should not be allowed to serve its members’ personal interests by circulating one-sided and biased (and many times false) positions on the issue of mining. What is really going on here is a small group of wealthy landowners have banded together to stop a mine from opening near Metamora. The MLPA is actually organized by these landowners to benefit their personal interests…”
The complaint also notes that it appears the MLPA has not filed the required annual report on Form 990 for 2016 or 2018. (Note: Under pressure this week, MLPA released these documents after learning of the requests for investigations.)
ATTORNEY GENERAL COMPLAINT
MAA has also filed a complaint with the Michigan Attorney General’s Charitable Trust Section stating that MLPA is not a 501(c)(3) organization entitled to tax exempt status under MCL Section 400.273(1) and MCL Section 400.291.
Because MLPA has worked since 2005 to influence local zoning board officials, intervene in litigation and engage in significant state lobbying activities, in conflict with its supposed 501(c)(3) mission, the complaint says it should not be allowed to seek charitable contributions under the state act.
See link below for requests for investigation.
About Doug Needham
Doug Needham is the President of the Michigan Aggregates Association (MAA). Doug is a registered engineer and road building expert with 24 years of experience in the field of infrastructure building. Doug served the taxpayers of Michigan for more than a decade in the Michigan Department of Transportation. The MAA takes pride in its partnership with MDOT in helping fulfill the mission of building the highest quality roads at the lowest cost to Michigan drivers.
To read more about the public policy under debate regarding SB 431, sponsored by Sen. Adam Hollier, go to: builditmichiganstrong.com