ILNews

Attorney says Washington nonprofit’s complaints are part of ‘smear’ campaign

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Terre Haute conservative attorney James Bopp Jr. says that an IRS whistleblower suit and other complaints alleging Bopp has diverted funds from the nonprofit James Madison Center for Free Speech to his law firm are part of a “smear machine” by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

The nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington announced Tuesday that its executive director Melanie Sloan has filed a whistleblower suit with the IRS against Bopp Jr., his law firm and the James Madison Center for Free Speech. Sloan alleges that Bopp has misrepresented the activities of the James Madison Center to divert nearly all of its money into the Bopp Law Firm.

The nonprofit JMCFS, based in Terre Haute, supports litigation and public education to defend the rights of political expression and association by citizens guaranteed under the First Amendment, according to the group’s mission statement. Bopp serves as the nonprofit’s general counsel.

The Bopp Law Firm helps clients with PAC law, campaign finance, election law, First Amendment and constitutional law matters.

The complaint filed with the IRS claims that in the last six years, Bopp, as sole manager of JMCFS, has operated unchecked by its board of directors and diverted the nonprofit’s funds to his law firm.  It alleges that Bopp, the law firm, and JMCFS owe more than $6.2 million in back taxes.

In addition to filing a whistleblower complaint with the IRS, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington asked the Indiana attorney general to investigate whether the JMCFS has violated Indiana law by diverting more than 99 percent of its revenue to Bopp’s law firm, according to a letter sent to Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office.

Complaints were also filed with U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett in the Southern District of Indiana, the Indiana Secretary of State, and the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

“Mr. Bopp is a self-described expert on the laws governing non-profits so he can’t claim to have made innocent mistakes,” Sloan said in a statement. “He knew what he was doing when he funneled all of JMCFS’s assets to his own firm and he had to know it was wrong.  Misusing a non-profit for personal gain is a serious offense and merits a thorough investigation.”

But Bopp said Wednesday he expects nothing to happen from these complaints. He said CREW has filed dozens of complaints against successful conservatives, such as Jim Dobson and Sean Hannity, but have never won on any of them. He referred to CREW as a “smear machine” that goes after people and groups whose views don’t match CREW’s.    

“I’ve represented groups they’ve filed IRS complaints against and nothing happened,” Bopp said.

CREW’s complaint is that Bopp is the only one paid by the JMCFS, he explained, but he’s the only one paid because he’s the only one who does work.

“[JMCFS] can only afford one lawyer. That’s me,” he said. The litigation center contracts with him and pays him to handle legal matters. He also pointed out that he’s donated millions of dollars in pro bono work to the group.

Bopp also said he’s paid taxes on every cent paid by JMCFS.

Bopp has gained national recognition for his work challenging campaign finance laws and regulations. He was one of the lead attorneys on the 2010 Citizens United case before the Supreme Court of the United States that allowed for unlimited contributions by corporations, unions, individuals, and private groups for political campaigns.

He’s also worked on judicial free speech cases and challenged judicial merit-selection systems in several states.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. "So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)" Well, you know, we're just following in the footsteps of our founders who raped women, raped slaves, raped children, maimed immigrants, sold children, stole property, broke promises, broke apart families, killed natives... You know, good God fearing down home Christian folk! :/

  2. Who gives a rats behind about all the fluffy ranking nonsense. What students having to pay off debt need to know is that all schools aren't created equal and students from many schools don't have a snowball's chance of getting a decent paying job straight out of law school. Their lowly ranked lawschool won't tell them that though. When schools start honestly (accurately) reporting *those numbers, things will get interesting real quick, and the looks on student's faces will be priceless!

  3. Whilst it may be true that Judges and Justices enjoy such freedom of time and effort, it certainly does not hold true for the average working person. To say that one must 1) take a day or a half day off work every 3 months, 2) gather a list of information including recent photographs, and 3) set up a time that is convenient for the local sheriff or other such office to complete the registry is more than a bit near-sighted. This may be procedural, and hence, in the near-sighted minds of the court, not 'punishment,' but it is in fact 'punishment.' The local sheriffs probably feel a little punished too by the overwork. Registries serve to punish the offender whilst simultaneously providing the public at large with a false sense of security. The false sense of security is dangerous to the public who may not exercise due diligence by thinking there are no offenders in their locale. In fact, the registry only informs them of those who have been convicted.

  4. Unfortunately, the court doesn't understand the difference between ebidta and adjusted ebidta as they clearly got the ruling wrong based on their misunderstanding

  5. A common refrain in the comments on this website comes from people who cannot locate attorneys willing put justice over retainers. At the same time the judiciary threatens to make pro bono work mandatory, seemingly noting the same concern. But what happens to attorneys who have the chumptzah to threatened the legal status quo in Indiana? Ask Gary Welch, ask Paul Ogden, ask me. Speak truth to power, suffer horrendously accordingly. No wonder Hoosier attorneys who want to keep in good graces merely chase the dollars ... the powers that be have no concerns as to those who are ever for sale to the highest bidder ... for those even willing to compromise for $$$ never allow either justice or constitutionality to cause them to stand up to injustice or unconstitutionality. And the bad apples in the Hoosier barrel, like this one, just keep rotting.

ADVERTISEMENT