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Watchdog group questions tax status of Jim Bopp’s James Madison Center for Free Speech

Posted Jul 10, 2013 4:45 PM CDT
By Molly McDonough

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A government watchdog group is calling for an investigation into the business dealings of prominent southern Indiana lawyer Jim Bopp.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics says Bopp is violating tax laws and laws governing not-for-profits because he is using his private foundation to funnel tax-deductible contributions to his law firm, the Gannett reported from its Washington, D.C., bureau.

“Tax law does not allow those who run charities to give all the money to their own private interests, and that’s really what’s happening here,” Melanie Sloan, the group's executive director, is quoted saying. "For all intents and purposes, the Bopp law firm is really the alter ego of the James Madison Center for Free Speech.”

Bopp, a well-known conservative lawyer who's been a regular challenger of campaign finance laws, decried the criticism and interrupted a press briefing the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics held with reporters.

“I think you’re just paid by (George) Soros to harass conservatives, drive them out of the political system by filing bogus complaints,” Bopp is quoted saying.

Sloan denied the group's targeting of Bopp is politically motivated.

Sloan's group is primarily complaining that Bopp effectively controls the James Madison Center for Free Speech, which Gannett reports has given more than 99 percent of its $2.1 million in contributions between 2006 and 2011 to Bopp’s Terre Haute-based law firm. Sloan maintains that rules against using nonprofits for personal gain mean that Bopp could owe $6.2 million in back taxes and penalties.

More on James Bopp:

ABA Journal: "The Big Bopper: This Terre Haute Lawyer Is Exploding the Canons of Judicial Campaign Ethics"

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