WASHINGTON, Oct. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today called on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to investigate allegations that Steven Emerson, one of a growing number of "self-proclaimed experts who spread hate toward Muslims," has used a non-profit "front" group to collect tax-exempt donations that are later transferred to his for-profit endeavors.
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The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said those allegations were raised following an investigation by The Tennessean newspaper, which described Emerson as "a leading member of a multimillion-dollar industry of self-proclaimed experts who spread hate toward Muslims in books and movies, on websites and through speaking appearances."
According to one expert quoted by Tennessean reporter Bob Smietana: "Basically, you have a nonprofit acting as a front organization, and all that money going to a for-profit," said Ken Berger, president of Charity Navigator, a nonprofit watchdog group. "It's wrong. This is off the charts."
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Smietana also wrote:
"Steven Emerson has 3,390,000 reasons to fear Muslims. That's how many dollars Emerson's for-profit company — Washington-based SAE Productions — collected in 2008 for researching alleged ties between American Muslims and overseas terrorism. The payment came from the Investigative Project on Terrorism Foundation, a nonprofit charity Emerson also founded, which solicits money by telling donors they're in imminent danger from Muslims. . .
"Emerson incorporated his for-profit company, SAE Productions, in Delaware in 1995. He launched the nonprofit Investigative Project on Terrorism Foundation in Washington, D.C., in 2006. But he doesn't make that distinction on his website, www.investigativeproject.org, which describes the Investigative Project on Terrorism as 'a non-profit research group founded by Steven Emerson in 1995.' And today, the two groups share the same Washington street address, which is published on Emerson's personal website. . .
"The Investigative Project on Terrorism Foundation's 1023 application for tax-exempt status stated that all of the money raised by the Washington, D.C.-based charity would go to a nonprofit subcontractor with no ties to Emerson or any board members. The application also said the charity would buy no services from board members. Emerson ended up being the only board member.
"In a letter dated Dec. 8, 2006, the IRS asked if there would be any ties between the subcontractor and the Investigative Project on Terrorism Foundation. On Dec. 29, 2006, Emerson wrote back: 'There are and will be no financial/business transactions between officers, board members or relatives of the aforementioned and applicant organization.'
"In 2008, however, the charity paid $3,390,000 to SAE Productions for 'management services.' Emerson is SAE's sole officer."
In a letter sent today to IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman, CAIR wrote: "Given the evidence uncovered by the Tennessean's investigation, we believe the IRS has a duty to investigate Mr. Emerson's alleged misuse of his group's non-profit status."
A copy of the letter was sent to Rep. Sander M. Levin (MI), acting chairman of the House Committee on Ways & Means.
CAIR noted that American Muslims have for many years viewed Emerson as one of the nation's leading Islamophobes. A media watchdog group reported that "Emerson's most notorious gaffe was his claim that the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing showed 'a Middle Eastern trait' because it 'was done with the intent to inflict as many casualties as possible.'"
SEE: Steven Emerson's Crusade
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, or 202-488-8787, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations