Thursday, 29 July 2010

Falling Off The Bridge

First, this:

The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, has published a regulatory case report on its investigation into the Atlantic Bridge Education and Research Scheme (“Atlantic Bridge”), (registered charity no. 1099513).

The investigation looked at whether Atlantic Bridge is properly established and registered as a charity, whether its activities are capable of advancing education for the public benefit and whether it has engaged in any inappropriate political activity.

The Commission concluded that, although Atlantic Bridge is a charity with exclusively charitable purposes and is capable of operating for the public benefit, its educational objects have not been advanced by its activities because of the way in which it has promoted the ‘Special Relationship’ between the US and the UK. The promotion of the Special Relationship is not the purpose of the charity and nor can it be. Although it is legitimate for a charity to study, research or educate the public about the ‘Special Relationship’, it is not permissible for a charity to promote a particular pre-determined point of view.

The Commission also concluded that the charity’s activities may lead members of the public to call into question its independence from party politics. The Commission has made clear to the trustees their legal and regulatory responsibilities and that the way that Atlantic Bridge currently carries out its activities must cease immediately. The full findings of the Commission’s investigation are set out in the report published today.

The Commission has provided the trustees with regulatory advice and guidance on their obligations under charity law. As a result of the Commission’s intervention, the trustees have committed to undertake a wide-ranging governance review over the next year and report back to the Commission within two months of its completion.

The Commission’s report also highlights issues for the wider sector. These include an explanation of the requirements in charity law for educational charities. This section also stresses that charities must remain independent from political parties at all times.

And now, this:

The US arm of a UK charity under investigation by the Charity Commission for links to the Conservative Party has been referred to the US Internal Revenue Service after its chief executive appeared to back David Cameron's election campaign.

Atlantic Bridge exists to promote close relations between the US and the UK and was founded by shadow defence secretary Liam Fox. It has branches on both sides of the Atlantic.

Amanda Bowman, chief executive of Atlantic Bridge Inc, the US-based organisation, wrote an article last week for Washington DC newspaper The Examiner, in which she said that Tory leader Cameron would be "much more amenable to shared US-UK foreign interests than Gordon Brown", and that the Conservative leader would be "good for America and better for the special relationship".

After Stephen Newton, a blogger on politics and culture, complained about Bowman's article, the Charity Commission told him it had notified the IRS, which determines the tax-exempt status of non-profits in the US.

Neither the IRS nor the Charity Commission would comment on the move.

Tax-exempt charities in the US - known as 501(c)(3) organisations - are prohibited from endorsing election candidates in the US or abroad. Wilful breaches result in revocation of their tax-exempt status.

One US-based lawyer specialising in non-profit law, who asked not to be named, said: "Political activity is an absolute prohibition. Endorsing candidates or taking a position vis a vis candidates is an absolute prohibition."

But he added that US charity executives were permitted to endorse candidates in a personal capacity.

"While it seems cut and dried, you could also see their lawyer arguing that she was speaking in an individual capacity, even though the article identifies her by her job title."

In a statement, Atlantic Bridge, said: "We are confident that no aspect of the recent op-ed in question is in violation of 501(c)(3) laws."

The Charity Commission opened a regulatory compliance case in August into the UK branch of Atlantic Bridge for alleged breaches of political neutrality. The inquiry is continuing.

The two charities share an advisory council, which includes seven Tory MPs and a Tory peer.

One of whom is Liam Fox.

Bringing us to Trey Barnes, now in London at the head of Global Policy Partners, "lobbyists" on behalf of Becatech, a "security firm" about which nothing more is known. Michael Fabricant MP has arranged for Barnes to have a House of Commons pass, giving him full access to the Palace of Westminster. Barnes is the Director of the Conservative Friends of America, set up by Fabricant and with GPP's Victoria Read as Deputy Director of the organisation, as well as Fox as a Patron. Barnes has also been a major donor to Hillary Clinton, among others...

This is all before we say the words "Luke Coffey".

Fox has been set up for a fall, that of the neocons at the far more traditionally Tory hands of David Cameron and William Hague. Can't be long now.

After Atlantic Bridge, how about those other neocon fake charities Policy Exchange (Michael Gove's forgers' den), the Centre for Social Cohesion (purely the person of Douglas Murray, too rich to need to work but still in need of a byline for televisual purposes), and the Henry Jackson Society?

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