Oregon Outdoor Council Needs to Be Held Accountable
For immediate release
May 15, 2013
541-434-1463 (Bob only)
Bend—A founding board member of the Oregon Outdoor Council (OOC) and the Oregon Outdoor Council Foundation (OOCF) issued a public statement today claiming that the non-profit needs to mend its ways to be in compliance with the law and ethical standards of non-profit behavior. This statement was authored by Steven K. Chapman who served as Secretary/Treasurer from the inception of the organization in 2011 until early 2013 when he resigned over conflicts relating to organizational practices and policies.
“In these post-ENRON days, the public and I have little tolerance for sloppy accounting, self-dealing and conflicts of interest. The OOC Board was warned by their CPA and legal counsel that their accounting was flawed and that certain expenditures and behaviors were inappropriate,” continued Chapman ,”the other board members elected not to listen to sound professional advice that I could not ignore.”
Over the past couple of years the Oregon Outdoor Council and the Oregon Outdoor Council Foundation have gained prominence as a political force to be reckoned with in Salem. As with many that rise so quickly, OOC cut corners and at times appeared to think that rules such as lobbying registration, transparency and IRS limits on spending were for others and not them. As a consequence their mercurial ascent is now stymied as serious questions arise about their legal and ethical practices as well as their take-no-prisoners approach to dealing with those with different views—even former allies.
“During my review I noticed some expenditures which are highly questionable as to how theentity may have benefited.” Letter from David Howland CPA dated October 10, 2012
At issue here are the appropriateness of expenses claimed by OOC executive director and board vice president Jerod Broadfoot as well as his use of non-profit resources for personal use. Mr. Broadfoot requested reimbursements for travel, lodging, food and entertainment where he variously failed to document material benefits to the organization; differentiate sufficiently between his consulting firm expenses and those for the non-profit; and deduct expenses related to his spouse including their stay in a luxury boutique hotel in the Washington, DC area.
“It is my job to advise OOC on how to avoid enforcement actions by agencies like the IRS and the Oregon DOJ. The easiest and surest way to avoid enforcement actions is by making sure your books are clean to begin with, that way you do not have to agree to “follow the law” if and when the government comes knocking at your door. “ OOC legal counsel e-mail to board dated August 17, 2012.
In addition, Mr. Broadfoot urged the OOC board to purchase computer hardware ostensibly for the non-profit that was also apparently used in his for-profit operations. It was argued that this expenditure was necessary to produce videos for the organization. Less than three minutes of video was produced for OOC, while Broadfoot Media greatly expanded their video activities.
“Steve is right to be concerned about what is going one [sic], especially in light of the fact that all of the OOC board members could be held personally liable.” OOC legal counsel e-mail to board dated August 17, 2012.
There are also questions about the organization’s compliance with IRS lobbying expenditure limits for 501(c)3 non-profits. In 2012, the organization’s budget (OOCF) was nearly $33,000 with more than $16,000 expended for a poll relating to an envisioned ballot initiative and legislative actions. This is in clear violation of the 20% limit set by the IRS regulations and does not include other expense which are likely associated with lobbying activity.
Mr. Chapman has taken this extraordinary action for several reasons. First, Mr. Chapman tried to take his fiduciary responsibilities as a board member seriously. Moreover, he believes that non-profits like OOC and the Oregon Hunters Association (OHA) should communicate openly and honestly with each other (see poll and communication with OHA) And he is concerned that his reputation is being attacked by the remaining OOC board members and needed to set the record straight.
“Many might question why I am so concerned about these relatively small amounts of money.” said Chapman. “It is not the size of the organizational missteps that is important, it is the pattern and the consistency of infractions that was of concern to me. I remain fully committed to hunting, angling and wildlife issues, but it has to be done legally and ethically.”