Washington Examiner

IRS complaint filed against liberal Supreme Court group with dark money ties.

Liberal Dark Money Group Accused of Overpaying Executive Director

A liberal dark money-linked advocacy group calling for Supreme Court “transparency” is being accused by a conservative watchdog in an IRS complaint of unlawfully overpaying its executive director.

The National Legal and Policy Center has urged the IRS to investigate Fix the Court, a nonprofit group that campaigns for Supreme Court justices to disclose more about their finances. The group’s 2022 tax forms revealed that its executive director, Gabe Roth, was paid “a whopping 82% of the nonprofit’s total revenue.” The conservative watchdog is calling for the group’s tax-exempt status to be revoked.

Fix the Court in Need of Fixing Itself

“Fix the Court is in need of fixing itself,” said Paul Kamenar, counsel to the conservative watchdog. “The compensation to its executive director, Gabe Roth, of $167,000, is over 80% of their revenue and double what he was paid in 2021. The IRS should revoke their tax-exempt status or impose a tax on Roth and the board of directors for the excess benefit.”

Fix the Court was launched in 2014 and was a project of the New Venture Fund, a nonprofit group managed by the for-profit Arabella Advisors, the largest left-wing dark money network in the United States. It became a stand-alone charity in 2021, a year that it paid Roth $79,700 while also pulling in $111,000 from the New Venture Fund and about $290,000 in revenue, tax forms show.

However, Roth’s salary ballooned in 2022. While Fix the Court pulled in just over $195,500 in revenue, the executive director was paid more than $162,100. Other board members, including its president Joshua Cohen and vice president Michelle Kuppersmith, were not paid.

IRS Complaint Alleges Excessive Compensation

Tax-exempt entities “are prohibited from paying their officers and directors an unreasonable or excessive compensation,” NLPC alleged in its Friday complaint, which cited Roth’s 2022 pay. The complaint also said that Fix the Court apparently had no policy in place for “independent persons” to review and approve compensation for officers during 2022.

“Under IRS rules, that payment constitutes an Excessive Benefit Transaction (EBT) and the recipient must pay an excessive benefit tax of 25%,” the watchdog’s complaint said. “Moreover, other managers or directors of the nonprofit who approved the payment are liable to personally pay a 10% tax.”

Fix the Court’s Donors Revealed

The complaint comes weeks after Roth accidentally provided the Washington Examiner with the names of Fix the Court’s 2021 and 2022 donors. The director had told the Washington Examiner, “I’m not a good fundraiser. I’m not a good CPA,” and later described how he is a “klutz.”

The combined 2021 and 2022 donors included the New Venture Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, as well as the Lebowitz-Aberly Family Foundation and Weinberg McCann Foundation.

Reaction to Fix the Court’s Donors

Roth’s panicked reaction to releasing Fix the Court’s contributors was slammed by the likes of Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT), who pointed out that Fix the Court has rebuked Justice Clarence Thomas for not disclosing certain gifts, particularly from Texas billionaire and real estate mogul Harlan Crow.

Fix the Court has been cited in a variety of stories on flights that Thomas took on Crow’s jet in recent years, and obtained security records in connection to one 2016 trip, according to ProPublica. However, the Supreme Court only tightened gift disclosure rules on March 14, 2023, making it unclear whether Thomas may have violated federal law.

“This guy is just mad that now we know the identities of some of the people who are trying to delegitimize the Supreme Court and are funding parts of the smear campaign against Justice Thomas,” Cruz tweeted on May 18.

Roth did not return a request for comment.

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