The chair of the Maryland Democratic Party struck back Tuesday at a conservative watchdog organization that suggested her nonprofit agency violated its tax-exempt status, saying the allegation — and an article about it by a right-leaning publication — were attempts to silence her and her husband, House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.).
A complaint filed Monday with the Internal Revenue Service by the National Legal and Policy Center questions whether there is sufficient separation between a consulting practice and a nonprofit organization run by Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the Maryland Democratic chair.
A report on the complaint published by the Washington Examiner pointed out that a foundation that funded those entities is tied to a corporation scrutinized by Cummings’s Oversight Committee and suggested that the connection poses a conflict of interest for Cummings.
His committee is spearheading multiple inquiries into the Trump administration over the president’s financial records, White House security clearances, use of personal email and other issues.
“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, calling the effort a “distasteful attempt to intimidate my family into silence at such a pivotal moment in our nation’s history.”
She declined to answer follow-up questions about her nonprofit’s work, donors and contracts.
Cummings echoed his wife’s remarks in a statement of his own, dismissing the claims as “a fabricated distraction from the important work being done on behalf of Americans, such as lowering the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs.”
The congressman, 68, became chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform this year. He has served in the House since 1996 and previously spent 14 years in the Maryland legislature.
Rockeymoore Cummings, 48, is well known in Maryland political circles and launched a short-lived campaign for governor in 2017. She was elected party chair the following year.
The couple have been married since 2008.
Tom Anderson, director of the National Legal and Policy Center’s Government Integrity Project, said he has been investigating Rockeymoore Cummings for the past 2½ years and does not represent “some front group who is mad at her husband.”
He said Rockeymoore Cummings is “upset because she’s been doing things that are wrong, they’re being exposed, and she’s lashing out.”
The IRS declined to comment on the complaint, citing federal privacy laws.
The complaint says Rockeymoore Cummings’s for-profit company, Global Policy Solutions, and nonprofit organization, the Center for Global Policy Solutions, have shared an office, have similar website designs and appear to have operated as one entity, potentially violating the nonprofit’s tax-exempt status.
In its article, the Examiner noted that Rockeymoore Cummings received significant grant funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which has links to the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson.
The congressman and the House Oversight Committee later began investigating pharmaceutical companies, including Johnson & Johnson, over drug prices and other issues.
Rockeymoore Cummings said in her statement that Global Policy Solutions won a childhood obesity prevention grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2006, which she used to direct a national initiative to help states and localities advance healthy eating and active living.
She founded the nonprofit in 2012 to tackle “disparities in health, education, economic security and technology,” she said. The nonprofit also received Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grants.
She denied having any contact with Johnson & Johnson and said her husband’s effort to reduce the cost of prescription drugs is unrelated to her work.
Joanne Antoine, executive director of Common Cause Maryland, a government watchdog group, said the Examiner article raises the possibility of a conflict of interest or self-dealing.
Rockeymoore Cummings “should take steps to disclose possible conflicts with the Johnson Foundation and to disclose the financial records from the nonprofit in question,” Antoine said.
Regardless of whether Rockeymoore Cummings is correct in saying that the Legal and Policy Center was “after her and her husband,” Antoine added, “it doesn’t mean that there aren’t valid pieces in there.”
The Falls Church, Va.-based center funded the legal fight of Andrew Miller, a former aide to longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone who was drawn into special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
In 2018, a federal judge found Miller in contempt for refusing to testify before a grand jury hearing evidence in the probe.