A Chicago-based tax-exempt organization that has been bankrolling takings initiatives in more than a half-dozen Western states — including all five with measures on the ballot this November 7 — continued to dispense millions of dollars even after its authority to do business had been revoked by Illinois authorities.
The tax-exempt organization, Americans for Limited Government, Inc., has given at least $2.5 million this year to groups pushing the ballot initiatives. But much of this activity came during a period when it had no legal standing to operate from Illinois, the Center for Public Integrity has learned.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White revoked the nonprofit’s certificate of authority to do business in the state on February 1, 2006, citing its failure to file an annual report as required by law. The organization’s authority to do business in the state was not reinstated until September 22.
“Upon the issuance of the certificate of revocation,” Illinois law says, “the authority of the corporation to conduct affairs in this state shall cease and such revoked corporation shall not thereafter conduct any affairs in this state.”
In the eight months that Americans for Limited Government operated illegally in Illinois:
- It was the largest donor ($892,000) to the Arizona HomeOwners Protection Effort, which is backing Proposition 207.
- It was the largest donor ($168,778) to People’s Initiative to Stop the Taking of Our Land (PISTOL), which is backing Question 2 in Nevada.
- It was the largest donor ($260,000) to the Property Fairness Coalition, which is backing Initiative 933 in Washington state.
- It was the largest donor (more than $2 million) to America at its Best, a tax-exempt organization in Virginia that was the second-largest donor to both This House Is MY Home, the chief proponent of Proposition 2 in Idaho, and Missourians in Charge, which backed a failed takings in that state.
In August, Americans for Limited Government also hosted the “ALG Action Conference” in Chicago, a three-day event that featured, among others, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma; political activist Howard Rich, the organization’s chairman; and John Tillman, its president.
On the same day that it revoked the license of Americans for Limited Government, the Illinois Secretary of State also revoked the certificate of its affiliate, Americans for Limited Government Foundation, Inc.
“These were clerical oversights that have been taken care of,” Tillman told the Center in an e-mail. “The reinstatements have been processed.”
The Illinois Secretary of State’s office, however, told the Center that, as of October 24, it had not reinstated the foundation’s certificate of authority.
Financial statements filed with Illinois authorities say that the foundation shares “common management” with more than a half-dozen of Rich’s organizations, including Americans for Limited Government; Legislative Education Action Drive (LEAD); LEAD Foundation; U.S. Term Limits; U.S. Term Limits Foundation; Social Security Choice.org, Inc. (SSC.org), and SSC.org Foundation, Inc.