Pride South Florida Defends Itself
After SFGN published a story last week detailing the numerous attempts by Co-Chair of Pride South Florida Marc Hansen to keep SFGN in the dark about it’s list of this year’s grant recipients, as well as certain tax documents, the board is fighting back and has released a statement defending their actions.
Here’s their official statement:
Pride South Florida (PSF) would like to state the facts as they relate to recent articles published in the South Florida Gay News. PSF is in no way attempting to engage in a “conspiracy of silence”, nor is it hiding anything from the community it represents and depends on for support.
The facts are as follows:
- PSF received a form letter from the IRS following a recent audit covering the years 2010 & 2011. The letter was a result of the IRS not receiving information that was sent to the auditor following a request made for same. A response is being pursued by PSF to the IRS to rectify the issue.
- As this is an important and pending situation, PSF requested legal advice. Upon receiving a news media request for information on this matter, PSF was advised not to release anything until the matter is resolved. This is what the media was told.
- Regarding communication to the media, in order to maintain consistency and abide by the by-laws of the organization, the Board was reminded that only the Officers are to make statements to the media. The revised & adopted 4/23/13 state:
ARTICLE V – DUTIES OF THE OFFICERS Section 1: President/Vice President President/Vice President (aka Co-Chairs): … The Co-Chairs will act as the sole spokespersons for the Board, and will represent the Board to outside organizations and the media…
PSF respectfully requests the community-at-large to understand they are acting in good faith and with no malice of intent. PSF will share the outcome of this event when it is closed and final.
We thank you for your patience and understanding, along with your continued support as we strive to maintain our good standing for and within the community we represent.
Immediately after PSF posted its refusal to release the records, the publisher of the Florida Agenda jumped into the fray, using the PSF Facebook page to announce that: “The Florida Agenda will take pride in printing the truth with no underlying motive. Publishing took a big hit this week. I am here to help restore publishing integrity not just because my partner and I are under attack from SFGN, because the community must trust us who report the news and not twist and turn things to suit our ego, or personal business enterprises. I can assure you and our community the Florida Agenda has never and will never entertain such behavior. Looks like its time for a new day.”
Besides the IRS letter that SFGN requested from PSF, SFGN also had requested a list of this year’s grant recipients. Initially Hansen had told SFGN he would forward the list, but later changed his mind several times – finally saying the list would be announced Friday, June 21. But as June 25, that list is nowhere to be found on their website, nor have they made the announcement on their Facebook page. According to the board’s minutes, they voted on May 28 to award all applicants, except for Red Hispania, a grant this year. The minutes, however, only identifies the one applicant that did not receive the award, rather than listing the ones that did.
At least one board member doesn’t seem to agree with Hansen’s decision to stay tight lipped. Miss Vickie Keller, board member emeritus, appeared shocked when told of the board’s secrecy. And she went on to unequivocally say SFGN should have been given those tax documents.
Meanwhile, the letter Hansen described as a “routine form letter from the IRS” was anything but, at least according to the board’s own minutes. The notice that Pride South Florida refuses to reveal to SFGN included a directive from the IRS that the organization could lose its 501(c)3 status if it failed to turn documents over to the agency by June 15, 2013.
At its June 11 meeting, Hansen recruited volunteers to work all night at the office to scan documents to submit to the IRS. Their accountant, Chad DiFalco, confirmed that board members went and scanned documents to submit to the federal tax agency.
Desperate for help, Hansen, according to the board’s minutes, then contacted the office of Congressman Diane Wasserman-Schultz, asking her to intervene on their behalf.
Hansen now claims he is acting under advice of counsel, and the board minutes reflect Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Dean Trantalis was contacted. Last week though, when contacted by SFGN, Trantalis stated “I have not been retained. I’m trying to guide them as they reach out for my assistance.”
However, SFGN contacted Trantalis again Monday since PSF released an official statement telling the public they’ve received legal counsel. This time Trantalis stated: “The situation with the IRS is an administrative matter that is being resolved between the Service and the organization. We appreciate your interest in the organization and this matter. Once it is determined that any disclosure to SFGN would assist the organization and is appropriate, we will get back with you.”