Marc Hansen Must Go: Pride South Florida Director Stonewalls Media; Threatens SFGN

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Who the hell do they think they are?

When you run a not for profit 501(c)(3) charity, you have to be held to a high standard.

This community was stained a few years ago when the director of Pride South Florida, Mike Cruz, went to jail for theft. It was tarnished again when Stonewall Pride went broke leaving a sea of debt to firefighters and emergency life saving personnel.

This week SFGN learned that Marc Hansen, the co-chair of Pride South Florida, is a participant in the Brian Neal Foundation programs. He sent SFGN a testimonial acknowledging how much their fitness classes have enhanced his being and reduced his hypertension. Good for him.

Maybe Hansen should have disclosed that to the PSF board, and recused himself from the vote giving the Brian Neal Foundation a grant. The minutes do not reflect that he did so. It seems to be nominal and inconsequential in light of what he has since done.

We are a media organization and we are now looking into a possible cover-up of facts by a tax-exempt community organization. We are not going away. What might have not even been a news story is now a major one.

While researching how much money the Brian Neal Foundation received from Pride South Florida, we discovered that PSF received a letter from the IRS stating that they are in danger of losing their tax-exempt status. The letter also could suggest just revising it to a different classification.

We don’t know because Marc Hansen will not turn it over to us, and has unilaterally ordered his board members not to talk to us. It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that is not a way to run a public tax-exempt foundation.

This information came our way by a review of their public minutes. SFGN told Hansen that we would like a copy of the notices from the IRS, since it is significant news that Broward County’s LGBT community’s most well known non-profit might be on the verge of losing its status as a tax exempt organization. We would be reporting on it.

Hansen said, “Why, are you trying to bring down Pride South Florida?” The answer, for everyone out there, who thinks SFGN may be the bearer of bad tidings, with this story, or others, is “No, we are just trying to report the news.”

Hansen has decided to Stonewall SFGN, flat out refused to turn over the records, threatened us with a law suit, and told us further contact from SFGN would be deemed “harassment” and “bullying.” He has demanded SFGN cease further contact with him, and directed his board not to speak with the paper. How reckless and stupid. Any board member may speak to us anytime they want.

We are a media organization and we are now looking into a possible cover-up of facts by a tax-exempt community organization. We are not going away. What might have not even been a news story is now a major one.

Hansen has refused to turn over the documents for our review and publication. He has disgraced the community, Pride South Florida, and his board. He should resign at once, or the board should fire him. What he has done this week is shameful, embarrassing and forever tarnishes pride organizations in Florida.

The gay community should support transparency more than anyone. To have the co-chair of Pride South Florida attempt to deny the South Florida Gay News documents we are entitled to and will get anyway is an outrage warranting the highest censure and condemnation.

This is YOUR community newspaper, affiliated with CNN and the Sun-Sentinel, a member of the Florida Press Association and Society of Professional Journalists. We will not and cannot look the other way when a major local charity comes under scrutiny. As this newspaper proves today in another story, it does not matter who is the founder or director. This newspaper has a duty to fulfill, and it is not to pomp, patronage or power. It is to the public, and no one will stand in our way.

Pride South Florida is a foundation whose former director has been found guilty of criminal fraud. Now that same foundation is under scrutiny from the IRS and for whatever the hell the reason, no matter how small or big, you have a right to know why – immediately.

It is absolutely disgraceful that Marc Hansen has held back this information from the public. If the PSF Board did not know of Mr. Hansen’s actions, they do now, and the burden is on them to act.  If they fail to remove him at once, then they need to go too.

This is day one of their denial, and each day and each hour they continue to refuse to turn over these IRS documents to us, they not only invite a public records lawsuit, they will see it on the top of our webpage at SFGN.com.

Faced with the reality that the Brian Neal Foundation misclassified and mismanaged a small percentage of their expenses, Bobby Blair, to his credit, in complete transparency, opened up the foundation’s books and records to SFGN for review. He immediately apologized for any mistakes, promising to do better in the future. Everyone deserves a second chance.

Faced with a simple inquiry as to why the IRS was asking Pride South Florida for records to sustain their tax exemption, Marc Hansen has refused to supply SFGN with the documents, stonewalling the press and shaming himself and his board. Pride South Florida has already had second chances. This guy has got to go. Norm Kent


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