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Wally Covington’s Illegal Campaign Money

By Greg L | 19 July 2011 | Crime, Prince William County | 25 Comments

The Nokesville and Yorkshire Volunteer Fire Departments are appropriated money by Prince William County in order to provide firefighting services to county residents.  So why in the heck are they both donating money to Wally Covington’s re-election campaign according to VPAP?  You’d think that a lawyer like Wally would understand that organizations recognized as non-profit charities under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code are not legally permitted to make political donations.

What a snake.  Let’s throw this bum out.



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25 Comments

  1. TryandDeleteMe said on 19 Jul 2011 at 11:40 pm:
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    You know who also needs to be tossed from the party. People who claim to be Republican activists but work against Republican candidates because they need the money. Thats what you call a whore and thats exactly what you are Greg.

  2. Greg L said on 19 Jul 2011 at 11:49 pm:
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    No, I think I’ll let this pathetic attack get past the filters. It serves to demonstrate how unhinged many of the people are who make it their hobby to attack me.

  3. Whisky-Tango-Foxtrot said on 19 Jul 2011 at 11:58 pm:
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    Pointing out illegal activity by candidates during a primary = whoring. Cripes can this Convington guy get any more desperate?

  4. Charles said on 20 Jul 2011 at 1:05 am:
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    WTF: The donations were in 2009, so they have nothing to do with this primary.

    The question is, is there any evidence that these donations were in fact illegal? They are publicly reported, and were made over 2 years ago, and I’ve seen no attempt to prosecute or otherwise call out these donations.

    I also can’t find the information about incorporation for the fire departments, to see what kind of organization they are. That information would be helpful in this post, maybe Greg or someone else can find that information.

    Then it would be nice to see a link to Virginia campaign finance law, because it is different from Federal law. Then we could see if it was criminal or not. And also see whether Virginia law holds the donor or the candidate responsible.

  5. Charles said on 20 Jul 2011 at 1:55 am:
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    Here’s the virginia law summary: http://www.sbe.virginia.gov/cms/documents/CF/Laws/Candidates_Summary.pdf

    Chapter 3, section 3.1, limits on contributions, states:
    “There are no contribution limits in Virginia. A committee can accept contributions from any individual, corporation, union, association or partnership.”

    There appears to be no limit on associations or partnerships, relative to their tax-exempt status.

    Here’s some volunteer fire companies that made political contributions to a lobbying PAC:

    http://www.vpap.org/donors/profile/money_out_details/114614?committee_id=490 — Buckhall
    http://www.vpap.org/donors/profile/index/119177 — Dale City
    http://www.vpap.org/donors/profile/index/126422 — Gainesville
    http://www.vpap.org/donors/profile/index/132199 - Lake Jackson
    http://www.vpap.org/donors/profile/money_out_details/136964?committee_id=490&end_year=2009&filing_period=all&lookup_type=year&start_year=2007 - Nokesville

    Here’s the PACs donor list: http://www.vpap.org/committees/profile/money_in_donors/490?start_year=2007&end_year=2011&lookup_type=year&filing_period=all

    Here’s a contribution from “VA Assembly of Independent Baptists”, which sounds like a religious group: http://www.vpap.org/donors/profile/index/147365?end_year=2011&filter_cmte=all&filter_cmte_radio=all&order=amount&start_year=2011

    Here’s Feiry Furance Ministries: http://www.vpap.org/donors/profile/money_out_details/198106?committee_id=3171&end_year=2011&filter_cmte=all&filter_cmte_radio=all&order=amount&start_year=2011

    Here are donations from private, Non-Profit colleges:
    http://www.vpap.org/donors/profile/index/201117?end_year=2011&filter_cmte=all&filter_cmte_radio=all&order=amount&start_year=2011

    http://www.vpap.org/donors/profile/index/177825?end_year=2011&filter_cmte=all&filter_cmte_radio=all&order=amount&start_year=2011

    Here’s a donation from a community organization: HOAs are generally also non-profit organizations, can’t determine if this one is a comstock non-profit or not: http://www.vpap.org/donors/profile/index/199229?end_year=2011&filter_cmte=all&filter_cmte_radio=all&order=amount&start_year=2011

    None of this proves that it is OK for a non-profit to donate, but I can’t find any indication that the donations cited in this thread are actually illegal, which seems to be the important question for the post.

  6. Sick & Tired said on 20 Jul 2011 at 7:38 am:
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    The most interesting thing to me is that so little of his contributors are from within his district. Why so much money from outside not only the county but the state? Finding out his supporters (from outside the county) have been involved in removal of his opponents signs. Classy.

  7. Sick & Tired said on 20 Jul 2011 at 7:39 am:
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    P.S. You are judged by the company you keep.

  8. VA_Magoo said on 20 Jul 2011 at 8:13 am:
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    Things that make you go hmmmmmm………

  9. VA_Magoo said on 20 Jul 2011 at 8:16 am:
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    I love the rationale that so many politicians use, “That was 2 years ago so it has nothing to do with today” or “When so and so was in office, they did it too!” I would offer that if it was illegal 2 years ago, something should have been done about it, that is NOT justification to try and do it again. If it was against the law when so and so did it, then it is still against the law when you are doing it!

  10. Riley said on 20 Jul 2011 at 8:32 am:
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    Charles, even if the donations were in 2009, they would be for the 2011 primary / general cycle since they were made post-2007 election and apparently not designated for debt relief from that election.

    And why would you be surprised that this hasn’t been prosecuted given that Ebert is our C.A.? Ham Sandwich would have been on top of this and had it resolved by now.

  11. Patty said on 20 Jul 2011 at 9:08 am:
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    Okay so 501 c 3’s are not supposed to make political contributions.

    Explain to me how John Stirrup accepted $400.00 from the Manor House Preservation Fund:

    http://www.vpap.org/committees/profile/money_in_donors/1509?end_year=2011&filing_period=all&filter_schedule=all&industry=all&limit=50&locality=all&lookup_type=year&order=amount&page=2&start_year=2003&zip_code=all

    Are you going to say he is a snake too?

  12. Greg L said on 20 Jul 2011 at 9:14 am:
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    The Evergreen Manor House fund is not a 501(c)(3). Nothing unlawful there.

  13. Patty said on 20 Jul 2011 at 9:25 am:
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    My bad. I finally found their web site.

  14. James Young said on 20 Jul 2011 at 9:33 am:
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    Though no expert in campaign finance law, and while I agree that these contributions may have been ill-advised (full disclosure: I support Wally’s reelection), I’m pretty sure there’s nothing illegal here. 501(c)(3)s can engage in limited political advocacy, as I understand it.

  15. Greg L said on 20 Jul 2011 at 9:42 am:
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    From the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov/charities/charitable/article/0,,id=96099,00.html

    (emphasis is mine)

    To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.

    Organizations described in section 501(c)(3) are commonly referred to as charitable organizations. Organizations described in section 501(c)(3), other than testing for public safety organizations, are eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions in accordance with Code section 170.

    The organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, and no part of a section 501(c)(3) organization’s net earnings may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. If the organization engages in an excess benefit transaction with a person having substantial influence over the organization, an excise tax may be imposed on the person and any organization managers agreeing to the transaction.

    Section 501(c)(3) organizations are restricted in how much political and legislative (lobbying) activities they may conduct. For a detailed discussion, see Political and Lobbying Activities. For more information about lobbying activities by charities, see the article Lobbying Issues; for more information about political activities of charities, see the FY-2002 CPE topic Election Year Issues

  16. Patty said on 20 Jul 2011 at 12:08 pm:
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    Since web pages and VPAP are being scrutinized and the moderator of this blog has kindly put up the 501 c 3 rules, is it certain that the Nokesville Volunteer Fire Department is a 501 c 3 organization?

    I checked a web site and there is no mention of it being a 501 c 3.

    Interesting.

    I don’t see any area where you can make a donation to them unless I missed it.

    There is mention of fund raisers.

    Please educate us. Web page indicated NVFD status would be helpful.

  17. Raymond Beverage said on 20 Jul 2011 at 3:08 pm:
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    @Patti

    By IRS Code, a volunteer fire company is a 501(c)(4), Civic Leagues and Social Organizations. They can receive the IRS Determination to be a nonprofit if “actively engaged in fire fighting and other disaster operations”. (IRS Publication 557 “Tax Exempt Status of Your Organization”)

    For these type organizations and Political Activity: “Political activity. Promoting social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention
    in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. However, if you submit proof that your organization is organized exclusively to promote social welfare, it may still obtain exemption even if it participates legally in some political activity on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for public office.”

    Note: “Proof” is either at the time of application for exemption, or indicated on the Annual Return Form 990.

    The core question is: if the VFCs mentioned received governement contributions, did the donation to a political campaign come from those funds? or seperate fund raiser or from other funds such as membership dues? A scrub of the Tax Returns would be in order. Guidestar is an excellent source of the Returns.

  18. Patty said on 20 Jul 2011 at 5:08 pm:
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    Thanks Raymond. Those are very good questions.

    I’ve also noticed that certain fire and police associations that take donations which they advertise as tax deductible have given money to certain candidates.

    It’s hard to throw a stone at one without hitting another so to speak…..

  19. Errant Cavalier said on 21 Jul 2011 at 8:45 am:
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    Also note that both of the pro-development supervisors facing primary challenges, Covington and Nohe, not only are financed mostly by developer interests, but also mostly from outside Prince William County. Prince William County is Covington’s single largest source of funds, but Fairfax County and City, and Washington, DC combined far outpace PWC. Add all of Covington’s other non-PWC sources of funding and it’s clear he doesn’t represent us.

    Nohe is even worse. Nohe has received far more money from Fairfax County alone than he has PWC. Add all of the other non-PWC campaign contributors and his allegiances become strikingly clear. Speaking of firehouse contributors, Nohe got $1,000 from the Prince William Professional Firefighters Union. That’s the union that PWC Democratic Chair Bruce Roemmelt used to be President of, and is still very active with.

    Why is someone running as a Republican in Prince William County financing his campaign with money from people in Fairfax County and elsewhere, and with Democrat money?

  20. Errant Cavalier said on 21 Jul 2011 at 10:43 am:
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    Avoiding getting stuck in moderation because of too many links.

    Nohe by location of contributor:

    http://www.vpap.org/candidates/profile/money_in_locality1/34565?display=list&page=1&end_year=2011&filter_schedule=all&locality=all&lookup_type=year&order=amount&start_year=2003&zip_code=all

  21. Errant Cavalier said on 21 Jul 2011 at 10:43 am:
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    Avoiding getting stuck in moderation because of too many links.

    Covington by location of contributor:

    http://www.vpap.org/candidates/profile/money_in_locality1/10212?display=list&page=1&end_year=2011&filter_schedule=all&locality=all&lookup_type=year&order=amount&start_year=2003&zip_code=all

  22. Errant Cavalier said on 21 Jul 2011 at 11:12 am:
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    Avoiding getting stuck in moderation because of too many links.

    Nohe’s contributors just in 2011, nearly 80% from Fairfax county, and mostly from developer interests.

    http://www.vpap.org/candidates/profile/money_in_donors/34565

    Manta identifies Malcom Cook as a principal with Hylton Enterprises. He is also associated with the Hylton Foundation.

    Among many other favors, Nohe got the combined Benton/Powell precinct renamed the Hylton precinct.

    Brookfield is the company behind Avendale (nice payday for Nohe there). The Rollins Ford road project included in the CIP just passed (over $12 million on our taxpayer charge account) goes to a Brookfield project in the Brentsville District but serves no other purpose.

  23. Errant Cavalier said on 21 Jul 2011 at 12:20 pm:
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    Here’s another good one from the Prince William County pending Comprehensive Plan Amendment cases:

    PLN2009-00267 CHANGE THE COMPREHANSIVE 12/18/2008 PND

    PLAN DESIGNATION FROM SRR AND ER, TO CEC AND ER; A-1; HCOD

    HUNTER AT HAYMARKET

    E.V. HUNTER TRUST

    7297-69-1959 LOCATED ON THE EASTERN SIDE OF ROUTE 15, APPROX 1,400 FT SOUTH OF ROUTE 15 AND JOHN MARSHALL HWY

    The upshot here is increasing density to allow for much more development on the land.

    As always, follow the money to see what our illustrious supervisors are up to (hint: it has nothing to do with the best interests of PWC citizens and taxayers unless they represent some special interest or are offering bags of campaign money).

    http://www.vpap.org/donors/profile/index/174612?end_year=2011&filter_cmte=all&filter_cmte_radio=all&lookup_type=year&order=amount&page=1&start_year=2009

  24. Rob Duecaster said on 22 Jul 2011 at 4:01 pm:
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    Even though arguing compliance/noncompliance with laws and regulations is my profession, I don’t think that is the issue. The propriety and the appearance of propriety is the issue in this instance. As Greg correctly points out, volunteer fire departments receive a lot of taxpayer money from the County. It certainly smells bad when some of that taxpayer money finds its way back to the campaign coffers of those who appropriated it. Wally made a mistake accepting money from organizations that receive taxpayer funding by virtue of his governance. That mistake doesn’t make him a bum or a snake, but it might be a good reason not to vote for him.

  25. Sick & Tired said on 22 Jul 2011 at 4:46 pm:
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    Questionable also is fact that he is beholden to developers and individuals from outside the county that have development aspirations. Mr. Covington regularly uses “poor judgement”. One would do best to ask the question what does Mr. Covington stand to gain from these associations?

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