The wife of Rep. Elijah Cummings could be violating the law by refusing to turn over documents related to her nonprofit group.
The National Legal and Policy Center has filed a complaint against the wife of the Maryland Democrat for her nonprofit, the Center for Global Policy Solutions, which has allegedly received millions of dollars from interest groups that have business before the House Oversight and Reform Committee chaired by Cummings.
Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who is chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, has refused to turn over records on her nonprofit that have been requested by the watchdog group as well as by the Washington Examiner and The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Wow. That’s illegal,” legal expert Sally Wagenmaker told TheDCNF. “It’s interesting and sad. You have the right to get them. The organization absolutely is required to provide the information, so to not do so would appear to be flaunting the law.”
“As a family member of an elected official, we’d expect high-road, integrity and compliance. If anyone should be responding promptly, it should be her. He should be above approach,” Wagenmaker, a Chicago attorney specializing in nonprofit tax law, added.
In order to secure the tax exemption, the law requires that information about their operations be publicly disclosed by the nonprofits, something Rockeymoore Cummings has repeatedly refused to do. And while refusing to turn over the forms, she has also claimed that the allegations about the potential conflict of interest are just attempts to silence her and her husband who is involved in inquiries into the Trump administration and the president’s financial records.
“It appears a conservative front group and a news outlet . . . are pushing a hit piece filled with faulty research, lies and innuendo in an attempt to tarnish my personal reputation, professional work and public service as well as that of my spouse,” Rockeymoore Cummings said in a statement last month, according to The Washington Post.
She slammed the effort as a “distasteful attempt to intimidate my family into silence at such a pivotal moment in our nation’s history.”
The 68-year-old congressman echoed his wife’s sentiments, dismissing the allegations as a “fabricated distraction.”
Operations by Rockeymoore Cummings’ for-profit consulting firm, Global Policy Solutions, LLC, appear to have overlapped those by the nonprofit Center for Global Policy Solutions which reportedly received more than $6.2 million in grants between 2013 and 2016, according to the Washington Examiner. Some of the financial backers of the group, such as Google, J.P Morgan, and Prudential have business interests before the congressman’s committee.
“One of the policy reasons for disclosure is to be able to illuminate conflict of interest, and the media’s role is to help illuminate that: is she trying to hide information, is she being secretive, does she think she’s above the law? And one of the ways that happens is through the required disclosure of 990s,” Wagenmaker told The DCNF.
Calls made to Rockeymoore Cummings were described as “weird” and “creepy” by Tom Anderson, the director of the National Legal and Policy Center’s Government Integrity Project.
“We called the phone number for the nonprofit and she answered it like her personal cell. Then every time we asked a question, she just kept repeating ‘And how can I help you?’ And then finally hung up. It was so creepy,” Anderson told The DCNF.
“We pointed out that it was required by law, and her response was ‘And how can I help you?’ It was so weird,” he added.
“It’s against the law. You have to hand those over. We’re a 501(c)(3) and if George Soros or a 10-year old kid requested our 990, we’d have to hand it over on the spot. The idea that she thinks she doesn’t have to is outrageous,” Anderson, who has been investigating Rockeymoore Cummings for over 2 years, said.
“The problem is there are millions of dollars coming into these entities from corporations and special interests with business before Elijah Cummings, and any time you have that, every rule has to be followed or else it opens the door for massive corruption,” he said.
“And that holds whether the politician in question is Donald Trump, Elijah Cummings or someone else,” Anderson added, noting that Cummings “went on to rant about how we’re a conspiracy right-wing group for super-mega billionaires, which sounds like something out of Star Wars.”