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.