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The Illinois Secretary of State’s Office is investigating whether five organizations connected to New York political activist Howard Rich have been “illegally conducting business within the state of Illinois,” an attorney with the office said today.

Terrence J. McConville, assistant general counsel to Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, confirmed the inquiry Wednesday in a telephone interview with the Center for Public Integrity.

The Center reported on October 25 that Americans for Limited Government, Inc., a Chicago-based tax-exempt organization that Rich chairs, operated in Illinois for most of 2006 without a certificate of authority, which is required by law. The organization’s certificate of authority was revoked on February 1, 2006, because it had failed to file an annual report, and was reinstated on September 22.

Five other tax-exempt organizations connected to Rich have been operating in Illinois as well, according to their federal tax returns. Records maintained by the Illinois Secretary of State show that none of the five organizations have certificates of authority to do business in the state.

“If you’re going to be conducting business in Illinois, you have to be registered in Illinois,” said Beth Kaufman, a spokeswoman for the Secretary of State’s office.

The five organizations in question are:

  • Americans for Limited Government Foundation (also known as Americans for Limited Government Research Foundation), which had its certificate of authority revoked in February. The certificate of authority has not been reinstated.
  • Club for Growth State Action, which has never been authorized to do business in Illinois.
  • Legislative Education Action Drive, which has never been authorized to do business in Illinois.
  • Parents in Charge Foundation (formerly LEAD Foundation), which has never been authorized to do business in Illinois.
  • Colorado At Its Best, which has never been authorized to do business in Illinois.

In 2004, according to their tax returns, all five organizations shared the same address in Glenview, Illinois. In addition, Americans for Limited Government, Inc., which Rich chairs, listed its headquarters as the same address.

The Illinois General Not For Profit Corporation Act of 1986 stipulates that any out-of-state corporation “organized not for profit, before it conducts any affairs in this State, shall procure authority to do so from the Secretary of State.”

Conducting affairs, McConville told the Center, would include “maintaining an office and/or address, maintaining staff” or even listing an Illinois address on federal documents. Until today, Club for Growth State Action’s Web site listed a Chicago address; it now lists only a Virginia telephone number.

Responding to the Center’s October 25 story, John Tillman, the president of Americans for Limited Government, said the organization “never had any obligation to register with the Illinois Secretary of State” because it was incorporated in Delaware.

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A journalist since 1978, Jim Morris has won more than 80 awards for his work, including the George Polk...