Exposed: Ohio anti-gunners' 2004 & 2005 IRS returns

By Chad D. Baus

As I was preparing to put Buckeye Firearms Association's latest set of campaign finance report figures on this website, I was reminded of a figure who has been appearing frequently in news stories about 'Castle Doctrine' legislation - someone I haven't much cared to spend time on in the past year or so because, frankly, she hasn't much mattered.

That someone is Toby Hoover, who heads what University of Toledo professor Brian Patrick memorably referred to at the NRA's 2005 Annual Meeting and Convention as a “coalition of two” (the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, or OCAGV).

Hoover never releases reports like ours, because she has cloaked the OCAGV behind a declaration of being a tax-exempt, not-for-profit charity, or as the IRS refers to it, a 501(c)(3).

As I revealed in August of 2005 ("Exposed: Pulling back the curtain on the gun grabbers' Wizard of Toledo"), Hoover can't hide everything about where her anti-gun funding comes from. OCAGV is required to turn in an IRS Form 990 each year, which becomes a public record.

It was not yet available to me when I published that first analysis of the sources of her anti-gun funding, but Hoover had already filed the Form 990 for OCAGV's second full year of operation (2004). So imagine my curiosity when I discovered that she had filed an Amended 2004 form soon after the cat was out of the bag - after it was revealed that someone was watching - and that she filed a second Amended 2004 return several months later.

Upon examination of the three 2004 forms, I became even more curious when I examined the area wherein Hoover's corrections had been made.

Call it anything but lobbying

Corrections on the OCAGV's first Amended 2004 Amended Form 990 were made primarily to re-classify a large amount of expenses originally reported as money spent to "provide resources and educational material to the public" as "direct lobbying". The second Amended return focused on the exact same area - reclassifying even more expenses as "lobbying".

Could there have been incentive to hide lobbying expenses in other categories on the original Form 990, before it was apparent someone was watching?

OCAGV's Articles of Incorporation say in part:

  1. "No substantial part of the activities of this corporation shall be the carrying on of propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation, and the corporation shall not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing of or distribution of statements) any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office."

And according to the IRS:

  1. To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.

Under the "substantial part" test, IRS rules say that an organization that conducts excessive lobbying activity in any taxable year may lose its tax-exempt status, resulting in all of its income being subject to tax. Further, a tax equal to five percent of the lobbying expenditures for the year may be imposed against organization managers, jointly and severally, who agree to the making of such expenditures knowing that the expenditures would likely result in the loss of tax-exempt status.

(For further discussion on how to determine whether an organization’s attempts to influence legislation constitute a substantial part of its overall activities, click here.)

It would certainly seem these rules would provide an incentive to keep reported lobbying expenses as low as possible, so long as no one was looking.

Indeed, as has been previously revealed, around three-quarters of one million dollars have flowed into this anti-gun organization in just four years, primarily through grants from the equally anti-gun Joyce Foundation. NOTE: Without OCAGV's status as a 501(c)(3) organization, dipping into this anti-gun honey pot would have been impossible.

In 2004, the year Ohio's concealed handgun license legislation became law, OCAGV originally reported just $619 in direct lobbying expenses. But after our first examination of the IRS records was published, Hoover filed the amended return, boosting the reported direct lobbying expenses for 2004 by nearly 600%. The numbers were boosted yet again on the second amended return, bringing the final reported 2004 lobbying expenditures to more than nine times what had initially been reported.

Oddly, the 2005 report shows a huge swing in the other direction - Hoover reported less than half as much in lobbying expenses in this, the year HB347 (concealed carry "fix-it" and statewide preemption of local gun control legislation) was introduced - the lowest level of lobbying expenses OCAGV has ever reported.

That pesky "phantom majority"

Hoover's IRS forms are notable for another reason. To keep OCAGV's 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, the organization is required to maintain an average of 33% public support.

  1. A substantial part of the foundation’s sup­port, for purposes of (1) above, generally is a third of its total support, figured on a combined basis for the 4 tax years immediately preceding the tax year in question.

But the organization that claims to speak for the majority of Ohioans was only able to achieve 22% support from the public in 2004, down from 30% in 2003, the organization's first full year of operations. And public support was just 29% in 2005. In order to achieve the required 33% AVERAGE over the years 2003 - 2006, OCAGV's 2006 return (already filed, not yet available to the public) would have to prove a 51% public support level. If it shows any less, OCAGV may no longer qualify as a tax-exempt charity. (Not that it ever really did - the National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) Code Hoover chose to be "a good, representative" description for OCAGV is N61, the number reserved for Fishing and Hunting Clubs.)

It is striking to note that OCAGV's public support dropped from 30% to 22% in the very same year that Ohio's Concealed Handgun License law became went into effect, and that it has never once achieved the required 33% public support threshold. It is clear that even the small amount of public support this anti-gun "coalition" initially achieved is waning. Contrary to the platform the Ohio media gives her (for more on how she manipulates the media, click here), Toby Hoover and the "coalition of two" isn't heavily supported by, and doesn't speak for, most Ohioans. Rather, just as I revealed in my original analysis, she is nothing but a shill for a liberal, anti-gun political mega-foundation from out of state.

Poor job performance equals pay increases

Another aspect of Hoover's operation which I revealed in 2005 was that Toby Hoover is registered as a paid lobbyist, and draws a generous salary from OCAGV. As I said upon first discovering this - to volunteers like myself, who pour literally thousands of hours a year into fighting for pro-gun causes, it is Ms. Hoover’s decision to pay herself that seems most distasteful. And to give herself a raise in 2004, the year she suffered her biggest set-back to date (passage of HB12, the Ohio Concealed Handgun License Law) seems like downright robbery.

OCAGV's IRS records reveal that Hoover paid herself $45,780 in 2005, a 6% increase over her $43,000 salary in 2004, which in turn was an almost 2% increase from her $42,252 salary in 2003, which was almost a 4% increase from her 2002 salary.

Normally, when one does not perform well in their job, they do not get a raise. And as the smoke clears on the past few years' legislative battle fields, it is clear that Hoover has done nothing for her gun ban movement that would merit any sort of salary, let alone several sizeable annual raises.

The Joyce Foundation's latest grant to OCAGV occurred in 2004, in the amount of $200,000, was earmarked as a two year grant "for continued support of its efforts as a statewide resource on gun violence prevention, and to build its organizational funding and membership base". Hoover paid nearly half of that to herself, and clearly has nothing to show for herself as far as achieving either one of the goals the Joyce Foundation set out in 2004. OCAGV's organizational funding levels have not increased, and as for membership base...well, let's just say it doesn't seem to be a priority. Reported membership dues on the IRS records were at their lowest level in 2005, down 33% from the previous year, and the OCAGV website doesn't even mention a way to obtain a membership (which begs the question - just where are the revenues being reported as membership dues on her tax returns coming from?).

OCAGV raised 44% less in 2005 (despite a 4% increase in fundraising expenditures), and spent 8% more. The organization's reported net assets are down 40% from 2004, and the two year Joyce Foundation gravy train is almost gone. So in the wake of her many legislative failures and self-imposed pay-increases, I'm just dying to see if the Joyce Foundation ponies up another chunk of change for OCAGV in the last quarter of 2007. If they do, it will prove their goals are not what they claim, but are instead aimed at propping up the notion of a phantom anti-gun majority in the Buckeye State - even if it means lining the pockets of one Toby Hoover.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman and Northwest Ohio Chair.

Special thanks to John Fenton, who contributed to this story.


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