Johnson’s PAC suspended for financial reporting violation
On the same day that singer Willie Nelson endorsed former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson for president in 2012, Veritas NM learned that Johnson’s Our America Initiative PAC has been suspended by the Utah Department of Commerce Consumer Protection Division for failure to file its first-quarter 2011 financial report.
As a result of the May 12 suspension, it is unlawful for the PAC to “solicit, request, promote, advertise, or sponsor a charitable solicitation in Utah until the registration is reinstated.”
But as of Tuesday night, the PAC’s online website has a “donor” button on it’s front page in direct violation of Utah’s order to cease financial solicitations. Clicking on the button redirects visitors to a page with instructions on how to make a single contribution and how to sign up for automatic monthly contributions with credit cards or online PayPal accounts.
Johnson, who launched his campaign for the White House in New Hampshire last month, is likely raising money under Federal Election Commission rules, but would still be responsible for reporting any money his Utah-registered 501(c)(4) collected from January 1 to March 31 this year.
Utah Consumer Protection Division’s Shauna DeWolf notified Johnson’s Stafford, Texas-based attorney Maureen Otis the PAC has been assessed a $25 late filing fee, and must file the financial report by the end of May or face another $25 fee for every month they are late.
Johnson’s press manager Sue Winchester told Veritas NM earlier in the day that she would forward our questions to “someone who is in the loop on the issue,” but there was no response by publication deadline.
In April, Veritas NM’s Peter St. Cyr reviewed Johnson’s 16-month old PAC’s financial reports. The puzzling trail of documents revealed the PAC had only filed one quarterly report, for the fourth quarter in 2010, and total donations of $205,000.
The PAC, and Johnson’s national campaign, is managed by Ronald Nielson, who owns Salt Lake City-based NSON Opinion Strategy, a political research and management group.
Nielsen was sued by the IRS two months ago for tax liabilities unrelated to the Our America Initiative.