Exposed: Ohio anti-gunners' 2008 & 2009 IRS returns

"A person who has a gun sees danger. We will have more shootings, more accidents."
- Toby Hoover, Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, when asked in 2001 about attempts to pass a concealed carry law in Ohio

By Chad D. Baus

As the State of Ohio celebrates completion of another successful year of concealed carry, with applications and renewals continuing at a healthy pace, it is time once again take a our bi-annual look at where the most vocal opponents of the law find themselves seven years after the law was passed.

The state's predominant anti-self defense rights organization, the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence (OCAGV), operates as a tax-exempt, not-for-profit charity, or as the Internal Revenue Service refers to it, a 501(c)(3). As such, executive director Ms. Toby Hoover is required to file an IRS Form 990 each year, which becomes a public record.

I began investigating the OCAGV's tax records soon after Ohio's concealed carry law took effect, and used records from 2002 and 2003 to disprove media claims that the law had been bought and paid for thanks to an overwhelming funding advantage from pro-rights organizations like Buckeye Firearms Association.

My examination of those records, as well as those from the years 2004 and 2005, uncovered a vast river of money flowing into Ohio from the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation, and revealed that unlike the all-volunteer team at Buckeye Firearms Association, Hoover had been paying herself higher and higher annual salaries, even as she suffered legislative loss after legislative loss.

When her 2006 and 2007 returns became available, however, I discovered that Hoover's river of money had slowed to a trickle.

It does me considerable pleasure to report that the latest records available - 2008 and 2009 - reveal that the OCAGV may literally be on life support.

In the first half of the last decade, OCAGV cashed in on close to three-quarters of one million dollars in grants from the anti-gun Joyce Foundation. The Foundation's last grant to OCAGV occurred in 2004*, in the amount of $200,000, and 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 at the end of the two years, had nothing to show for herself as far as achieving either one of the goals the Joyce Foundation set out for her.

In fact, since that time, OCAGV's organizational funding levels have entered a free-fall, and the organization hasn't reported a single dollar taken in from revenue from membership dues since 2007.

According to the 2009 Form 990 (the most recent year for which records are publicly available), OCAGV experienced a 25% drop in gross receipts from 2008 to 2009 alone. The organization ended the year with the lowest amount of assets on hand (just $8,503) since the organization was formed in 2002. This marks a 52% drop from 2008. (The organization held nearly nine times more in assets at the end of 2004, the year Ohio's concealed carry law took effect.)

The organization spent 74% less in 2009 on lobbying the legislature, and attempting to influence the public about a pending legislation, than it did in 2004, even though 2009 was the year Ohio's restaurant carry legislation began to be debated in the Ohio General Assembly.

The lack of Joyce Foundation funding has also had a drastic effect on Hoover's own pocketbook. After having given herself annual pay increases each year from 2002 to 2006, despite the fact that her organization had endured legislative defeat after legislative defeat, Hoover's 2009 salary was decreased 92% from a high of $45,780 in 2005.

(To the many advocates and volunteers like myself, who pour literally thousands of hours a year into fighting for pro-self-defense and pro-gun causes, the fact that Hoover has ever received a salary for her work is highly distasteful.)

While it is certainly good news that the OCAGV is suffering financially, and although support from the general public is clearly quite small, there is still reason to remain vigilant.

In 2008, the organization amended its bylaws to change the maximum number of members of the board to 29. The organization's 2009 Form 990 listed 20 board members, most of which share in common professions similar to some of its original cast of characters - namely higher education, health care or clergy. Recent additions to the list include a D.C. political consultant and former Handgun Control Inc. Director of State Legislation, and a motor vehicle accident attorney (I'll save the ambulance chaser jokes) from the Cleveland area. Curiously, one person that is no longer on the list of board members is Hoover's husband, Ed.

With a long list of well-educated, well-connected professionals sitting on its board, and with a supportive media willing to assist them in propping up their claims to speak for millions (even though the group, as University of Toledo Professor Brian Patrick once put it, "appears to have no tangible, mass membership at all"), we can be sure the organization is hard at work searching for new sources for funding, and plotting new strategies aimed at the destruction of Second Amendment rights.

As such, Buckeye Firearms Association volunteers will continue to work, without hundreds of thousands of dollars of funding these anti-gunners are used to having, to defend and advance the right of Ohio citizens to own and use firearms for all legal activities, including self-defense, hunting, competition, and recreation. Please join the fight.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

* The Joyce Foundation gave a "small" (by comparision to historical contributions) grant of $55,000 in 2010. This income will be reported on OCAGV's next Form 990, and discussed in future analysis.

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