The debate over PACs in Laguna has seen both sides accusing the other of misleading the public. There is a simple solution. All nonprofits should post on their websites tax returns, FPCC, CA SOS filings, financial statements, etc. All nonprofits have a link on their sites to donate money. I won’t donate if they won’t provide easy access to these filings. All I want to know is your legal standing, who is running it, and how my money is being spent.
If the organization is a PAC, they must file 990-tax returns. These can be found at: forms.irs.gov/app/pod/basicSearch/search?execution=e1s2. A search for Laguna Beach PACs shows the following: LB Firefighters Public Awareness Group, LB Police Employees PAC, LB Republicans PAC and Village Laguna, Inc. Village Laguna tax returns state they are a PAC and that most of their revenues are spent on “political activities.”
Non-political 501(c)(4)’s, such as the “community associations” we have in Laguna, must file tax returns. The IRS site can be used to find those returns.
FPPC form 460 must be filed by campaign committees and PACs who support candidates and ballot initiatives. These are posted on the city website:www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/citygov/cityclerk/electioninfo/disclosurestatements.htm. Contributors must be disclosed along with how the money is spent.
I have a charitable trust I use to donate to my favorite charities. It’s managed by a reputable financial institution. When I ask them to donate to “Village Laguna, Inc,” they decline since it would not be a tax-deductible charitable donation.
The charges being exchanged between Village Laguna and Liberate Laguna could be fact checked if all nonprofits posted all their regulatory filings on their websites. To be truly transparent, they should also post their financial statements, board members, corporate by-laws, etc. Everyone is free to donate to whatever cause they believe in. When Village Laguna asked to put my home on the Charm House tour, I told them I support historical preservation but won’t participate unless the money goes to 501(c)(3) charities and not to political candidates. Some have suggested the city should require all nonprofits in Laguna to register and disclose key documents. But do we need more laws? Why not make it easy and be totally transparent by posting the information on their websites? That would increase community confidence in these organizations and hopefully lessen the uncivilized mudslinging.
Doug Cortez, Laguna Beach