|Stacey Singer - Palm Beach Post|
In an exclusive interview with Mal Contends, Stacey Singer expanded on her blockbuster story on David Koch (Palm Beach Post, Feb. 18. 2012) that has directly resulted in complaints filed with the IRS and the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board alleging illegal use of tax-exempt status by the elusive billionaire.
Singer said in her 20-minute interview with Koch that "he took credit for the fact the Republicans maintained control of the legislature in the Senate" recall elections held last August.
He said it "was the work our people did, what Americans for Prosperity did and the money spent that enabled them [the Republicans] to keep control in the [state] senate."
The republicans have a narrow 17-16 majority in the Wisconsin state senate, and lost two recall races last Summer.
Singer's piece garnered over 25,000 hits in the first hours of publication, and quickly went viral, [HuffingtonPost.com, Politico.com and Jsonline.com being the top three referring sites, the Day Editor of the Palm Beach Post said], but did not mention the specific Wisconsin Recall senate races.
"I wrote the piece for a Palm Beach audience; I would have written the piece differently for a Wisconsin audience. Including Mr. Koch's quotes about the Wisconsin senate recalls would have required an extra 10 [column] inches to explain for Palm Beach readers; and the article ended up as a 70-inch piece as it is. A 40-inch piece would be a normal piece for me," said Singer who writes often about health, science, and biotech pieces.
The quote Singer used about Koch, Scott Walker and Wisconsin reads:
'We’re helping him, as we should,' Koch said of Walker. 'We’ve gotten pretty good at this over the years. We’ve spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We’re going to spend more.'Americans for Prosperity - 501(c)(4)
Singer noted that Americans for Prosperity to which the Koch brothers have contriubuted $ millions is a 501(c)(4) organization and not a 501(c)(3), as has been reported in many media outlets.
Conceivably, Singer's notes [the interview was not recorded, Singer said] could be subpoenaed in an investigation of the alledged “illegal use of tax-exempt status by billionaire David Koch,” as the Democratic Party of Wisconsin has contended in its complaint against Koch.
In a Koch Industries Feb. 21 reaction piece Koch writes, "My comments about unions to the Palm Beach Post referred to government employee, taxpayer-funded unions. ... In addition, as the Palm Beach Post story indicated, my comments concerning support for Governor Walker related solely to Americans for Prosperity and its activities in Wisconsin."
Singer's comments regarding Koch's assertions pertaining to the Wisconsin Recall senate races may add extra fuel to the political fire.
Worth noting is the fact that 501(c)(4)s may legally participate in political elections, if done in a non-partisan manner and a limited capacity.
"1.501(c)(4)-1(a)(2)(ii) provides that the promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. Thus, an organization exempt under IRC 501(c)(4) may engage in political campaign activities if those activities are not the organization's primary activity," reads an IRS guideline.
Readers point out that the MacIver Institute (which teamed up with Americans for Prosperity) to produce the It's Working, Wisconsin - Did it Right spot is a 501(c)(3). And the MacIver Institute has several close ties to the Koch brothers.
Singer said she found Koch to be very earnest and geniune personally, and in his politics and philanthropy.
"He is terribly sincere, absolutely. I found him to be an idealist, an idealist of the Ayn Rand stripe, that the free market will help people," Singer said. "He has a deeply held belief on unions and feels the philosophy behind the closed shop workplaces is fundamentally and deeply wrong."
Singer added that Koch is "extraordinarily polite; he's a gentleman. He was willing to answer every single question I asked him."
The firestorm of the Recall movement is being felt by Koch, Singer said. "He feels intimidated right now, I think, and he is standing up for his beliefs."
One of Koch's beliefs is curing cancer.
"He is very much a philanthropist. His donation to cancer research is going to make a real contribution to cancer treatment."
Singer, a native of Monona, Wisconsin who graduated from UW-Madison and worked as an editor at the Daily Cardinal and reporter for the Capital Times, said much of the feelings towards Koch appear to be fear.
"If people could have a real conversation with him, people might get over the fear," Singer said. "But he is sincere, he is not backing away from any thing he said to me," pointing towards Koch's comments on the Koch Industries webpage.
Singer also noted the passing of Anthony Shadid with whom she served as an editor at the Cardinal.
"Anthony and I were editors together at the Daily Cardinal in the Summer of 1988. He was always the smartest, hardest-working journalist in the room," Singer said.