Pride One of Broward County, also known as Pride South Florida the organization that hosts the annual PrideFest in Fort Lauderdale, recently denied SFGN’s request for certain IRS documents that the board’s minutes referred to. In those minutes it stated that the organization could lose it’s tax-exempt status. Co-Chair Marc Hansen said their legal counsel, as well as the IRS told him that they should not turn over those documents.
Now the board has gone one step further. At their bi-monthly meeting on June 25, advisory board member, John Fugate, also requested to review those IRS documents. He was denied, with Hansen telling him that he’s a part of the media and isn’t allowed to see them. Fugate, works for South Florida Gay News as its Community Outreach Coordinator, but insisted that he, as board member, had the right to see them.
Hansen disagreed and refused to turn over the documents saying no one has them. It’s unclear whom Hansen was referring to. No other board members spoke up during the discussion.
Before the meeting SFGN contacted PSF’s assumed legal counsel, Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Dean Trantalis, who said “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.”
After SFGN’s initial article detailing PSF’s IRS problems the two co-chairs of the organization, Rocky Bowell and Marc Hansen released this 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.”
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, which apparently it has done so.