GOP accuses D.C. Council's Thomas of running 'fake' nonprofit

By Tim Craigand Mike DeBonis
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, October 15, 2010

District Republicans are accusing D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) of raising money for a "slush fund" that he depicts as a nonprofit group even though it is not registered with the IRS and is not in good standing with the city government.

Tim Day, an accountant who is challenging Thomas in the Nov. 2 general election, said the incumbent has been raising money for his Team Thomas/SwingAway LLC program for years but has not been disclosing who his donors are or where the money goes.

"This is a fake organization," Day said. "If he has truly received money and donations and has given it back to his community, he should be more than willing to provide documentation."

On Thomas's Web site, he describes Team Thomas as a "non-profit organization for social change, citizen empowerment, community development and youth and senior development program."

Day, backed by the D.C. Republican Committee, supplied reporters Thursday with a copy of a letter Thomas wrote on his council stationery in May 2008 promoting the organization as a "not-for-profit urban youth program that introduces boys and girls to swing sports."

Thomas's organization, which he created in 2000, is not registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt nonprofit. The Web site for the city's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, which certifies nonprofits locally, says Team Thomas's license has been revoked.

In an interview, Thomas accused Day and the GOP of trying to smear him, noting that he and his family have a long history of community service.

"They are on a very useless fishing expedition," he said.

Thomas, well known in Northeast for coaching and mentoring young athletes, said he never suggested the organization was registered as a tax-exempt nonprofit, which would entitle donors to a tax deduction.

Thomas said Team Thomas is registered with the DCRA. He added that he "explored the possibility'' of seeking tax-exempt status for the group but decided not to because he plans to close the organization and start another one.

According to DCRA officials, Thomas's certification was revoked in September 2009 because it failed to submit a brief outlining the organization's board and officers. The certification had been revoked twice before for similar reasons, officials said.

Thomas and his attorney, John Ray, countered that the DCRA is making "a mistake."

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