Pride Fort Lauderdale has not filed a tax return in more than three years.
According to the IRS, Pride’s last federal return was received on May 13, 2020 for the year 2019.
Through extensions and quirks in the tax code, a nonprofit like Pride can take about three years and five months to file a return. But even under the most forgiving scenario, Pride appears to be just a week away from missing its deadline to report their finances for 2020, a solid three years and five months ago.
How the organization is operating, as well as who’s in charge, are questions President Miik Martorell is in no hurry to answer.
As SFGN reported, Martorell appears to be the only person running the organization, without any executive board to oversee him. SFGN has learned that he has brought on Ernie Yuen to serve as Executive Director or in some analogous role. Drew Segura, a local DJ and entertainer, recently posted on social media that he has joined Pride and will work on their social media and digital presence.
But that’s all we know. Pride’s website is still promoting February’s event and its About Us page still lists board members and employees who have resigned.
Empty Promises While Emptying Our Coffers
The city of Fort Lauderdale and Broward County are key partners in making sure the event happens. In the run up to Pride of the Americas (POTA) in February, the city stepped in at the last minute and offered a new location and covered some of the security costs. Visit Lauderdale, the county’s tourism arm, traditionally kicks in tens of thousands of dollars.
And while Pride happily takes the money, it offers little in return. Martorell has promised to show us a profit and loss sheet from POTA. He has promised to get minutes of board meetings posted. He has promised transparency.
None of the promises have been fulfilled.
The lack of transparency caused major sponsors to drop out just weeks before POTA, and a steady stream of resignations, starting with now-former executive director Kevin Clevenger, left the organization bare.
In an exclusive interview with SFGN, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said he believes in the event but stresses that Pride is its own group, not a part of the city, and Fort Lauderdale functions in a supportive role.
“They’re completely on their own. I don’t understand what happened,” Trantalis said.
Indeed, it is hard for anyone on the outside looking in to understand what’s going on because Pride won’t tell you.
Their intentional evasiveness led to the exodus of board members and volunteers. The departures are what concerns Trantalis.
“What concerns me is that the group has disintegrated. Hopefully by this time next year we’ll be able to see a reconstituted board with a lot of energy,” he said.
501(c)3 groups don’t have a lot of restrictions on them, but Pride’s by-laws are supposed to provide guardrails. Those include setting qualifications to serve on the boards, posting minutes, making notice of meetings, requiring two signatures on a check (both must be members of the Executive Committee and cannot be the treasurer).
It’s possible though Martorell and his supporters have changed the by-laws.
The fact is, they won’t tell us. Legally, they don’t have to.
Though a date for a Pride in 2024 hasn’t been announced, Trantalis remains optimistic. “We’re hoping that Pride Fort Lauderdale is able to reorganize and we’ll be able to have another great event.”
SFGN reached out to Martorell, who has not returned calls related to this story.