(This is a reader diary promoted to the front page by Colorado Pols)
Representative Gordon Klingenschmitt from Colorado’s House District 15 just cannot remove his foot from his mouth. He also just cannot separate religious and political speech. Using scripture to explain horrible crimes, slandering of colleagues and organizations as terrorists, all stem from this basic conflation.
However, what I’m outlining here is how his campaign finances suffer from the entanglement of religion with politics. I will look at all three organizations Klingenschmitt owns or uses:
- GJK, Inc (his for-profit company),
- GordonforColorado, (his campaign committee),
- The Pray in Jesus Name/Persuade the World Ministries nonprofit. (PIJN/PTWM).
It’s not as gruesome and insensitive as his “God judges America /Ripping Women Open” comments, but just as horrifying if you believe, as our country’s founders did, as I do, in the separation of church and state.
Problem #1: The mysterious GJK, Inc. corporation
- GJK Inc, appears to be Klingenschmitt’s large, unregulated, unaccountable cash stream from online donation buttons on the PJIN religious pages. This is illegal and unethical.
- Updated: The Pray in Jesus Name site still links to GJK, Inc, for cash contributions. GJK is the media arm of Klingenschmitt’s businesses, and the one he gets paid from.
[Lots more after the jump…]
- On Klingenschmitt’s Pray in Jesus Name page, there is a button to donate to his political work. The payee is named “GJK, Inc”. He claims that this is a private for-profit (non-tax exempt) journalistic corporation fully in compliance with IRS rules. This does not seem to be true.
- This fund is not listed as a corporation with the Colorado Secretary of State. If it’s not a real corporation in Colorado, it can’t report to the IRS.
- None of the contributions to his campaign committee, GordonforColorado, list GJK as donor.
- Paypal typically feeds directly into bank accounts – so it isn’t a stretch to assume that “GJK Inc” is merely the name of a bank account. If he is taking political contributions directly into a private bank account, with no accounting or transparency, this is a flagrant violation of campaign finance rules.
- On the KNUS Craig Silverman show March 28, Klingenschmitt was closely questioned about the GJK account. He responded that he had received “in the neighborhood of $800,000 dollars” in donations from the direct mail and online solicitations in 2014. He says that he takes no salary from the operations. If GJK is raising $800,000, as he says, then he wouldn’t need to take any money from Pray in Jesus Name’s paltry $39,000.
- The Independent’s John Tomasic has also investigated the GJK account, specifically because Chaps’ other “religious” account, the Pray in Jesus Name/Persuade the World Ministries Account – had been suspended by the Secretary of State’s office for bad paperwork.
According to the Charitable Organizations Division and the Secretary of State website, the group’s charity status was suspended on October 15, 2014.
In an email sent Tuesday, Klingenschmitt explained that the fundraiser emails he has sent out since October 15 and that were cited by The Colorado Independent “come from a totally different for-profit corporation, GJK, Inc., not from the non-profit as you falsely claim.”
- So the GJK, Inc. corporation is being used both for political and religious donations? If so, that is a serious problem and a campaign finance violation. That’s not the only asset used for both political and religious purposes – the candidate’s PO Box 77077 Colorado Springs, 80970, is the same for all three entities – the campaign, GordonforColorado.com, “GJK, Inc”, and the religious non-profit PIJN/PTWM solicitations. Clicking “Donate to Political Work” on the PJIN page leads to a Paypal donation page headed GJK, Inc.
Problem #2: The Pray in Jesus Name/ Persuade the World Ministries Nonprofit raises funds for charities, but apparently does not distribute funds to said charities. This is a violation of state and federal rules – charities are required to file regular financial reports, and to give as they promise that they will give.
As noted previously, by the Independent and Pols reporters, “Dr. Chaps” has not been keeping up with the required paperwork on his PIJN/PTWM nonprofit.
PIJN/PtWM directly interferes in politics, interviewing and advocating for candidates such as Ted Cruz, Randy Baumgardner, and others running for office. PJIN has done this for years, which would appear to violate its tax-exempt status. On a chemtrails conspiracy site, Klingenschmitt brags about influencing elections in 2009. On the 2013 PTWM/PIJN 990 form, question 46 asks:
Did the organization engage in political campaigns directly or indirectly for any candidate? Klingenschmitt, or his tax preparer, checked the no box. However, PIJN indirectly and directly campaigns for candidates at the local, state, and national level, with obvious intent to influence elections.
The Orissa Orphanage Solicitation
Chaps solicited donations for this charity, claims that he “built an orphanage for 94 kids in India” but there is no evidence that he ever gave any money to build an orphanage. Specifically, in April 2013, on Episode 37 of the PIJN show, Chaps said that he was “going to build an orphanage in Orissa, India.” The episode cut to video clips of Indian children clapping and singing, presumably in an orphanage. A “Pastor Basat (sp?)” was identified. Chaps said that he had been to this orphanage and had talked with the Pastor.
The orphanage was never named in the clip. The “Donate to the Orphanage” button in the video went to a Rocketfunding crowd funding site, which refers to a non-working link for “Pray in Jesus Name”.
There are many orphanages in Orissa, India, many desperately poor children, many Christian and other organizations trying to meet their needs. Chaps was quite specific about what the donations would be used for: to build a 3500’ addition to an existing apartment, with three bathrooms and a second floor. He asked for $7000 to make this happen. In fact, he says it did happen. His campaign website claims that he is a “Charity Founder”, who “Built orphanage for 94 children in India”. UPDATE 3/2016 – His campaign website still says
Gordon leads a non-profit charity Pray In Jesus’ Name Ministries, which broadcasts on television and raised all money to build an orphanage for 94 children.
There are no charitable grants on the 2013 tax return of Persuade the World Ministries . The only large expense paid is $11, 610 to Altarnet, which is a local Christian media and video production studio that probably does Chaps’ slick video productions. On this form 990, schedule O, where grants would be listed, only equipment and operating expenses are listed.
Problem #3 The subcontracting entities Klingenschmitt uses for his online and direct mail solicitations, Diener Consultants, and Eberle Associates, have been accused of collecting monies which they then do not fully distribute to the client charities or campaigns. Diener Consultants is also deeply involved with racist anti-immigrant groups.
Diener Consultants head offices are in Delaware and Pennsylvania, but they have a local branch in Parker, CO. The company has been around for decades. It is known as a hard-right supporter of the Minutemen and border patrol groups. Some grassroots anti-immigration activists hate Diener because they came in and started sucking up all the fundraising for “vigilance on the border”. Diener excels at raising money from the unsophisticated, gullible, paranoid folks on its mailing lists. Chaps uses Diener Consultants for his email and online donation money streams. Clicking on a “news” link on the “Pray in Jesus Name” page, directs to non-working dienerconsultants pages. These are older links (2011). PJIN Conservative Action Alerts now directs to a page hosted by Diener Consultants.
L Phillip Sheldon Diener’s CEO and registered agent for the Parker, CO branch is L. Phillip Sheldon, who ran SAVE, listed as one of the “Fifty Worst Charities” in the US, because, while their mission was to raise money for victims of sexual violence, only 33% of those funds ever reached victims. Louis Sheldon is the founder of the Traditional Values Coalition (rated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.) So yes, the people who managed Chaps’ online money stream are a known Nativist hate group, who also exploit victims to raise cash.
Direct Mail – Eberle Associates. They are extremely conservative direct mail and online-solicitation outfit, also known for vacuuming money in, and distributing very little of it out. . They handle Chaps direct mail operations, according to his 990 forms. UPDATE: Chaps’ 2014 990, available via a free account on the Guidestar website,lists his fundraiser as Fundraising Strategies, Inc. Coincidentally, the Board of Directors of this new fundraising entity includes Bruce and Kathi Eberle.
Problem #4 GordonforColorado.com.
The contributions listed to this campaign from FollowtheMoney show several contributions from individuals that are much greater than the $200 limit. There is also an unitemized amount of 1,102 from two donors. Both of these are against the rules outlined in the most recent Colorado campaign finance manual.
America’s founders set up constitutional separation of church and state for excellent reasons. It’s not just a good idea – it’s the law. Gordon Klingenschmitt has found that mixing politics and religion is very profitable, if his figure of making $800,000 from 2014 donations is to be believed. But it’s still unconstitutional, and illegal.
Tax time is coming, Gordon. Let’s see some transparency on GJK, Inc. Let’s see some accountability in your nonprofit organizations. Make some refunds or pay some fines on your gordonforcolorado campaign committee site. Use this six weeks away from the video cameras to find out what happened to the $7,000 to build the orphanage for those kids in Orissa, India. If you never sent them the money, send it now. If you sent it, show us the donation. Clean up your act…..or Colorado voters and legislators of both parties will clean it up for you.