A Pembroke Pines non-profit organization violated the law by making a campaign contribution to Pines Vice Mayor Iris Siple. Last June, the Optimist Club of West Pembroke Pines gave $500 to Siple’s re-election campaign. According to State and Federal records, the Optimist Club of West Pembroke Pines is registered as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. Federal law expressly prohibits these groups from making political contributions.
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website, the Optimist Club of West Pembroke Pines could lose its tax exempt status over the Siple contribution. The IRS states:
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.
The Optimist Club of West Pembroke Pines funds athletic activities for youth and adults such as football and softball. Why would the organization would jeopardize its tax exempt status over a small campaign contribution?
The organization’s president Vincent Grippa told REDBROWARD his group backed Siple due to her support of Pembroke Pines children. “[Siple] speaks up for the kids, she stands up and supports the youth of the community,” Grippa said.
Grippa said he was unaware the contribution was a violation of the law. He said he would contract their attorney to confirm it is indeed a violation.
Siple is running against Ryann Greenberg and Christopher Ziadie on March 15, 2016.
Well the Optimists should have known better than to send her the dough (and I wonder if their board approved the contribution, or it was just one exec who decided to make this boneheaded move?) , but Siple absolutely had to know this was illegal. She’s been in office for many terms and I can’t imagine she wasn’t aware she was breaking the law by accepting it. This behavior is extremely worrisome.
Mistakes happen. People are human. As long as it is rectified by returning the monies then I say move on. Siple has had an impeccable reputation otherwise. She has my vote!!!!
Siple said that she opposed the building of Ranches Mayor Jeff Nelson’s dangerous and property value-threatening, for-profit prison, when she actually arrived very late to that party. That can’t have been the only time she was fibbing. Hers was an extremely costly mistake.
However, taking that illegal campaign contribution was not just an error in judgement. It was a violation of a very basic law. If she had left work and started to drive home on the wrong side of the street, causing an accident, would you have said, “Mistakes happen. People are human?”
She returned the money because she got caught, not because it was wrong. Hers is a “dog ate my homework” excuse. That is what I find so worrisome.
Comparing the collection of campaign donations to driving the wrong way on the road and causing an accident is apples and oranges. Definitely not the same. Still voting for Siple!!
You would think that a so called reporter would fact check before writing and reporting inaccuracies! It is pretty simple to look on the IRS site to verify if an organization is a 501c3, and the Optimist Club of West Pembroke Pines is not!! As a 501c4 the Optimist club did nothing wrong! Check your facts before slandering an organization of VOLUNTEERS that do nothing but provide service to the youth of the community!
Like checking the Form 990 filed with the IRS? The group checked the 501(c)(3) box. Like checking with club president Vincent Grippa? We did. He never made the “we’re not a 501(c)(3) organization” argument. Thanks for reading!
Tom, give me your email address and I will gladly provide you the proof you requested about the organizations current status and then you can take this inaccurate garbage down.
REDBROWARD at Gmail is the address
The Optimists may have changed their status from 501(c)3 to 501(c)4, so the question is, when did they do that? Was it before they made the contribution? I’m sure many of those who donated would be shocked and unhappy if they knew their money intended for kids was going to Iris’s campaign. Their 990 indicates they’re pulling in over half a million a year, if memory serves. What do they do with all that dough?
I would like to know why they would get political in the first place? How did this program get the money? They collect $5.00 from every child who registers in there program to go to there fund. That money should go back to the kids not to support political representatives.
Has Siple gotten evolved in any actions that are going on in one of there programs where a previous commissioner has made thousands and thousands of dollars a year using his position as the commissioner and treasurer of that program which is a violation of the program’s bylaws?
No one does anything and everyone stays quiet because there board doesnt want to spend any more time dealing with the courts.
Where there’s hear there’s fire, keep searching and you will find a lot more.