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Arends Fails to File 990s for Trump-Flacking Vets Org, Loses Non-Profit Status

As Dakota War College continues to ignore the hot national story of its golden legal boy Joel Arends’s big-money connection with Archie Bunker in a suit—er, Donald Trump, we learn that the IRS has revoked the non-profit status of Arends’s political veterans organization, Veterans for a Strong America:

Screen cap from IRS Exempt Organizations Select Check, showing revocation of non-profit status of Veterans for a Strong America, snapped 2015.09.17.
Screen cap from IRS Exempt Organizations Select Check, showing revocation of non-profit status of Veterans for a Strong America, snapped 2015.09.17.

501(c)4 non-profits can endorse and spend money on political candidates, as long as such political activity does not become the organization’s primary activity. But the IRS revoked VSA’s non-profit status back in May and posted that revocation in August, before Arends issued his organization’s official endorsement of Trump. They busted lawyer Arends for not filing his legal papers:

The fundraiser on the battleship Iowa this week was ostensibly meant to be a fundraiser for the 501(c)4 VSA, which will “go towards helping Veterans for a Strong America supporting our warriors on and off the battlefield and not to any candidate or candidate’s committee.”

Except the nonprofit status of VSA has since been revoked for failure to file the IRS form 990 for three consecutive years. So, the money from the event will likely go to the VSA Super PAC, and thus, to Joel Arends, who as of last night, may have been the sole member of VSA [Blake Stilwell, “Trump’s Vet Endorsement Came from a SuperPAC Disguised as a Not-for-Profit,” We Are the Mighty, 2015.09.16].

Not only did lawyer Arends fail to file his 990s (good grief, Joel! Even your famous clients, the Haber-Bosworths, remember to file the 990s for their sham non-profit!), but when confronted with questions about his non-profit status revocation, he breaks more law by hiding VSA’s tax returns:

The group’s chairman, Joel Arends of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, said the organization was appealing the IRS decision. He would not provide AP with copies of any tax returns, which would show how much money the group has collected over the years and how it spends its money. By law, such records are supposed to be available to the general public for inspection [Jeff Horwitz, “Vet Group Hosting Trump Lost Nonprofit Status,” AP, 2015.09.16].

Arends also apparently tricked the USS Iowa Museum into giving him the non-profit rate for the Trump battleship event:

The head of the USS Iowa Museum said the group received a preferential rate for nonprofits, which are billed $13 a head for large gatherings such as the one hosted by Veterans for a Strong America.

“As far as we knew, this was a nonprofit that supports veterans and we were unaware of who their speaker was until after it was booked,” said museum chief executive John Williams. He said the museum relies on such groups’ self-characterization as nonprofit organizations to determine pricing [Horwitz, 2015.09.16].

Ye shall know false prophets by their fruitsand ye shall know your fruits by their false non-profits.


  1. Porter Lansing 2015-09-17 10:30

    Joel Arends esq. ~ Off Battlefield Warrior at your service, ma’am

  2. Disgusted Dakotan 2015-09-17 11:57

    You overlooked a big piece of the puzzle that you reported on

    So Arends received millions of donations for VSA and refused to file tax returns for the last 3 years? He illegally promoted Bosworth’s campaign using his non-profit.

    Powers is ignoring this scandal because Arends is tied to establishment machine cogs Marty Jackley, Dan Lederman, and Mike Rounds.

    If your readers are disgusted with Arends’, they have a right to file a complaint with the SD BAR:

  3. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-09-17 13:39

    Another shameless one. Has he claimed to be a “Good Christian” too?

  4. Roger Cornelius 2015-09-17 14:02

    And Powers over at the Dump Site continues to remain mum.

    The Rapid City Journal has not covered this story either.

  5. 96Tears 2015-09-17 14:51

    Tax evasion? Fraud?

    This should be a true test whether Joel is in the special protected class in Pierre. And as long as his client Annette is on the ground, I wonder what an audit of her campaign funds and her and Chad’s personal accounts would yield for their attorney. Should also audit Chad’s campaign accounts since they don’t have to report to the FEC.

  6. rwb 2015-09-17 16:09

    That Powers is ignoring this is entirely predictable. But really, who cares? Everyone with an IQ over 70 understands that Powers is a miserable slug second grade bully who couldn’t reason his way out of a wet paper bag.

    Roger, to call that toxic waste dump over there a mere dump site isn’t doing it enough justice, although I really appreciate the sentiment you offer…

  7. Rorschach 2015-09-17 16:55

    Notarizing the documents that got his client convicted of 12 felonies – when he knew she was out of the country when she claims to have circulated the documents in the country – didn’t do much to improve his poor reputation as a lawyer. This won’t help him either.

    Bosworth/Haber and Arends all deserve each other. They are cut from the same cloth. At some point they will probably reconcile and join forces for some scam or other.

  8. Rorschach 2015-09-17 17:04

    Credit the guy for knowing where the money is. Planting his lips firmly on Trump’s arse shook some shekels from the money tree for his broke fake nonprofit group.

    I’d like to see South DaCola do an artwork depicting Trump pooping hundred dollar bills and Joel Arends with his hands full of them trying to scoop more up in his teeth.

  9. owen reitzel 2015-09-17 17:38

    Of course the Bosworth supporters thinks this vindicates her. Don’t really understand that reasoning.

  10. grudznick 2015-09-17 18:00

    Either the mainstream media doesn’t really think this is much of an issue or they are researching a really big article on it all. I don’t understand it all with these IRS things so it seems boring and not very interesting. My guess is Mr. PP is working on some other more important articles. I am positive his IQ is more than 70.

  11. David Newquist 2015-09-17 19:01

    The verbal and thought(less) patterns on the Dakota Wart Collage definitely put it and its proprietor in the 51 to 70, moronic, range.

  12. grudznick 2015-09-17 20:10

    I am sure he has been tested higher than that, Mr. Newquist. No need to resort to name calling of such a bawcock. Could he blog here, no doubt he would post you a copy of his test.

  13. The King 2015-09-17 20:18

    This is just another bad sub-plot to the whole Trump reality show. Enough is enough, said the designated right-leaning reader. The GOP needs to get serious or completely lose all credibility. My gosh, Hillary has given us an unguarded layup here, why screw that up with this whole Trump thing?

  14. Rorschach 2015-09-17 20:37

    In the proposed South DaCola artwork, Trump should be saying, “When you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do. Look at THAT face!”

  15. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-09-17 21:19

    “Dakota Wart Collage”

    Hahahahahahahaha! Excellent creative writing from the Prof. Thank you.

    Mike, doesn’t that sound like a name PKM would create?

  16. SDBlue 2015-09-18 00:20

    Is this why NOem and her cultists are always screaming for the IRS to be abolished?

  17. Travis 2015-09-18 20:28

    Cory!! Rachel Maddow had a screen cap of this blog post as a graphic on her show tonight!!! You’re making it to the big show!!!!

  18. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-09-18 21:12

    Woo-hoo! Congratulations Cory! Good catch Travis.

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-09-18 21:51

    Really, Travis? Quick! Send me a screen cap of the screen cap! And Ms. Maddow, if you’re watching, tell Steve Benen to include a DFP hyperlink in the print version of the story.

  20. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-09-18 21:52

    By the way, 96, I’d love to audit Chad’s campaign account… but almost eleven months after his pre-general report was due, he still has not filed any campaign finance report with the Secretary of State.

  21. Travis 2015-09-18 21:57

    I DVR’ed it. I’ll have to try to take a pic with my phone and share it with on Facebook.

  22. Travis 2015-09-18 22:02

    Check your Facebook notifications, Mr. H!!!!

  23. leslie 2015-09-18 23:31

    cory led maddow & msnbc co. (shultz, kornackie) to the EB5story closing around rounds’ neck last election. rachel obviously sees SDGOP as a fertile source of election craziness material.

  24. leslie 2015-09-18 23:37

    king-unguarded layup? you mean emails have more credibility than trumpster? “never, ever, ever, believe it” trump every day

  25. leslie 2015-09-19 00:06

    (AFP’s nonprofit 501(c)3 wing is chaired by David Koch, who founded the Americans for Prosperity Foundation with his brother Charles. “I was consulting with Americans for Prosperity on a state level, helping to connect them with key decision makers,” Arends says. old news…motherjones, 5.4.12

    In an interview with ABC affiliate KSFY-TV on September 17, Arends said that his group is being attacked because they are endorsing Trump and defended against these allegations by saying that he works with six volunteer board members and that he has a “database of more than 500,000 members who have contacted the organization.”[8]wiki

  26. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-09-19 09:32

    Thanks, Mike! But come on, Team Rachel! How about a verbal mention, and a hyperlink?

  27. 96Tears 2015-09-19 09:58

    Cory, how is it possible that a high profile irritant like Chad has escaped an audit of his campaign records and bank accounts? The Arends shenanigans should vastly increase the urgency for a thorough audit of Arends’ phony non-profit, all accounts involving the Bosworth campaign and all accounts involving Chad’s campaign. These con artists have been sending up red flags for any competent law enforcement officials to to their jobs.

  28. Roger Beranek 2015-09-20 13:10

    I have to say the anti establishment conservative/libertarian front seems non-existent in sd. Corruption and fraud emanating from every candidate and organization, wether part of the ugly machine or trying to lay false claim to idealistic populism. There needs to be some tar and feathers in Pierre.
    Ps. I have never been so disgusted with a national candidate as with Trump, and by extension every idiot spending more than half a second seriously considering him as president. I still am holding out for him to founder on the rocks, but if sanity fails:

    I promise to vote for Bernie Sanders over The Trump.

  29. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-09-20 13:26

    Thanks for that promise, Roger! Now, if you’d like to help create a real anti-establishment conservative/libertarian front in South Dakota, may I suggest making contributions to Dakota Free Press and the South Dakota Democratic Party? We won’t create that front ourselves, but strengthening the left wing against the faux-conservative establishment would weaken that monolith and perhaps embolden a true conservative response to both rising Dems and complacent Republicans. :-)

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