Thursday, October 7, 2010

Project Gulf Impact and passing the “smell test”

Stories in this series:

Yesterday, the investigation into Project Gulf Impact continued with the revelation that after being contacted via email and asked to provide information and comment, and after this blog ran its exclusive story investigating the background of the organization’s membership and political connects, PGI altered their website to remove information provided to prospective contributors regarding how their donations would be used.

Today, we continue to “ask questions” and “seek the truth.”  After all, isn’t that what PGI is supposed to be all about?  Seeking truth?

This organization still doesn’t quite pass the smell test.

PGI’s new donation page still maintains that it is operating under California law and is seeking federal 501(c)(3) status.  Continued, in-depth investigation cannot verify that this is the case.

To assist prospective charities in forming their organization and preparing the proper documentation, the Attorney General’s Office for the State of California has published a Guide for Charities (1.46mb PDF). From that document:

A California nonprofit public benefit corporation is formed by completing the steps summarized here:

  1. Choose a corporate name.
  2. Draft and file articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State.
  3. Draft the bylaws of the corporation.
  4. Draft action of incorporator and have it signed by all incorporators.
  5. File federal application for employer identification number (EIN) with the IRS.
  6. File a statement by domestic nonprofit corporation. The Statement by Domestic Nonprofit Corporation is sent by the Secretary of State within 90 days of filing Articles of Incorporation.  You must complete and return this statement to the Secretary of State.
  7. Register with the Attorney General's Registry of Charitable Trusts. Charities must register with the Attorney General’s Office within 30 days after receiving their first assets by filing Articles of Incorporation and bylaws with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts and pay a $25 registration fee. Organizations must renew registration and file financial reports annually thereafter.
  8. Hold first meeting of directors.
  9. File application for exemption from federal income taxes with the IRS and state income taxes  with the California Franchise Tax Board.
  10. Review the corporation's need for state and local permits and licenses and establish procedures  to meet deadlines for required periodic filings with the IRS, FTB, Secretary of State and Attorney General. This procedure is important to keep the organization in good standing and avoid the need to pay delinquency fees.

This investigation didn’t get past the second step. Like most states, the California Secretary of State’s office maintains a search facility that allows queries of its database of domestic stock, domestic nonprofit and qualified foreign corporations, limited liability companies and limited partnerships’ information of record.

On October 6 and October 7, 2010 a set of exhaustive queries of that database were conducted, and there were no results consistent with PGI’s public statements and published web pages.

Searching by corporation name, the following searches provided zero consistent records on each attempt:

  • Project Gulf Impact
  • Project Gulf
  • Gulf Impact
  • Project Impact
  • Laws of the Ocean
  • Law Ocean
  • Ocean Law

The search term “project impact” did produce results.  However, none of the corporations listed showed any of PGI’s principals as the incorporator; some had been dissolved and others were incorporated many years before PGI was alleged to have been formed.

UPDATE: A commenter notes a typographical error and provides additional information. The search terms “project impact” and “Laws of the Ocean” did produce results.  However, none of the corporations listed showed any of PGI’s principals as the incorporator; some had been dissolved and others were incorporated several years before PGI was alleged to have been formed.

Searching by Limited Liability Company/Limited Partnership Name, the following searches also provided zero consistent records:

  • Project Gulf Impact
  • Project Gulf
  • Gulf Impact
  • Project Impact
  • Laws of the Ocean
  • Law Ocean
  • Ocean Law

These query results strongly suggest Project Gulf Impact is unlikely to be a California charity or charitable trust and in turn, the organization would likely have insufficient documentation to file for federal 501(c)(3) status.

However, as has been documented in the stories published earlier this week, the organization has actively sought contributions under those names and under the guise of operating as a non-profit, charitable organization. And, as has been documented in public interviews, radio broadcasts, public statements and this series, the organization appears to have used those funds for travel, entertainment and other purposes, and despite requests no documentation has been provided for those expenses.

Furthermore, this series shows that the organization changed the language on its website after being made aware that there were questions about its fundraising and activities in Louisiana.  The changes were made after the organization apparently concluded a summer fundraising drive using the website as its primary source of information about how donations would be used.

With this being the case, there is considerable circumstantial evidence that California and/or federal laws may have been violated.  Accordingly, all of the information and documentation collected during this investigation have been turned over to the California Attorney General’s office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Since the organization has apparently established an office in Port Sulphur, LA, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office has also been notified.

This blog will monitor developments and post updates as they become available.

UPDATE II: In response to reader email—if PGI’s principals provide documentation showing that they are indeed a legitimate charitable organization and that the use of funds were consistent with the stated goals of the organization, then this blog would acknowledge and print that information.  However, as of this date, the organization has still not responded to a request for it.


Casey Nunez said...

while I am the very one who basically put PGI on the map a few months back I also started seeing some major Red Flags with the group and actually called Matt to address what I was seeing.
first red flag was the day following PGI going out with myself and another Blogger from Ohio by boat I saw a video where they said they were in grand Isle louisiana and seeing lots of military activity and check points yet as we spoke matt informed me they were in fact somewhere In I believe arizona headed back to California so this was a major red flag for me and since then I have seen many things that leave me to wonder what is really going on with them and their true motive. I have also covered the Gulf crisis from grand isle to Pensacola Florida but no one is paying my way I asorb the costs as a service that I feel people need to know about.
also saw red flags days ago as they claimed to being very ill and in the hospital yet the very next day Matt was laughing and sounded perfectly fine as he did a radio interview something is simply not adding up. I will be posting a video about this later today and while it will not be a personal attack video I do have some questions that I would like to hear Matt answer.

Anonymous said...

if you look at their website, it says "Law of The OceanS" with an S at the end, not "LawS of the Ocean" - if you do a search on the site you linked to, it comes up


David L. said...

You're right. I apologize for the typographical error and I've updated the post accordingly.

Astarah117 said...

Dear BamaFan (as in Obama??) You do not pass the "smell" test! You wrote an entirely sladerous article, based on a TYPO, and your little, "update" does not let you off the hook.

Anonymous said...

According to their website, Gavin's last name is Garrison, and the non profit is registered under Gregg Garrison, so, although I'd love for this to be true, it looks like they just reformed PGI under a legit non profit... it is apparently "Law" not Laws ... prob how they became a non profit is this - if you have an existing non profit, you can reform under an existing one with the agent for service of process - and gregg garrison is only the Agent for Service of Process, which means he is who founded it in 06', therefore, the one who is responsible for court-related docs... if you run the entity number, gavin, matt, and heather are listed as the officers ... it sucks, but it looks to be true, they have a legit non profit

here is the before it's news article:

David L. said...

Aside from the update already posted, I stand by the rest of the story. PGI is an organization with documented ties to left-wing environmental groups that support global climate change "science." They're environmental radicals, apparently.

PGI changed the document it used to solicit charitable contributions after publication of the second installment of this series and after being asked to provide information about the uses of funds.

PGI also, apparently, has used the charitable contributions for purposes other than those stated on the primary solicitation documents.

Assuming--in a stretch--that PGI is operating under a legitimate corporate umbrella, none of the other facts have changed.


I dont like PGI never did never will there only here for a buck just ask the 2000 dollar cams, and burger king

Anonymous said...

link from their website - says they are a domestic non profit and has them listed as officers with the stamp .... interesting

Anonymous said...

Yes but that page doesn't state anything other than they filed the information about themselves. Isn't there other things that need to be filed like their bylaws or there Tax ID number? Where is that? This only looks like they named people in the group to bond one another to the company...i mean "non-profit"

Anonymous said...

it looks like the files keep coming... here are their articles of incorporation for being a non profit

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...

it looks like the files keep coming... here are their articles of incorporation for being a non profit"

LOLZ I love the smell of propaganda in the morning. PGI (Party Group International), are you sure you wanna go there?

What part of "propaganda" don't you understand?

GulfCoastBamaFan is gonna eat you and make you watch.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.