Sunday, March 24, 2013

Read Between The Lines

Mr. Bough,

I am happy to answer your questions for your sake and that of your readers. You still falsely and inaccurately claim I was paid $219,596 according to the 2006 Form 990 for 2005. Again, that is not what the 990 says. It states my compensation in '05 was $98,593. The management and general and fundraising expenses you misrepresent as part of my pay were not. I was paid in 2005 a salary of $88,000.

The take home pay for my family of 10 during that year was about $6,000 a month or $72,000 a year. That is what I was paid, period. The additional approximately $10,000 included expenses that my employer paid was for non-salaried compensation, such as the company car I used for the 70 mile commute to our headquarters and our satellite offices. The additional amount was health insurance benefits.

Such non-salaried compensation must be included in W-2s. That organization upholds the highest standards of financial integrity as a longstanding member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) that also commissions yearly outside audits from a highly reputable auditing firm.

My concern, Mr. Bough, is that you misrepresented me as receiving a salary of over $219,000—which is untrue—and also wrote that the Alliance for Orphans and Widows pays me $120,000 a year, which is also untrue and grossly misleading. In truth, I receive absolutely no salary or pay from the Alliance, zero.

As for House Bill 888, I stated that I did sponsor that bill in the House and handled the Senate version, SB 46, in the House. My concern is you falsely asserted I did so to mandate state funding of faith-based organizations like the ones I have served. As I already wrote, SB 46 does not mandate any state funding of non-profits, faith-based or otherwise. My previous post makes clear what the Faith Based Liaison Act does, so we do not need to repeat that here. My concern is that you falsely misrepresent me for sponsoring legislation for financial gain of organizations of which I am a part. That is outrageously false. 

My motive for having sponsored the bill is to see more Missourians in need, especially poor and needy seniors, children and the disabled receive services and care. This new law holds great promise to make that possible as liaisons for the Department of Social Services communicate with faith-based organizations. A wonderful conference occurred last week in Jeff City in which DSS staff and staff of faith-based organizations met to consider ways to collaborate while abiding by state laws, especially the Blaine Amendment, and the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution. As I said, 34 other states have adopted similar faith-based legislation.

Concerning the two suites and one phone number, we did consult the IRS as well as the MEC before setting up our campaign office in a separate suite from my charitable work done in another office. The IRS has an excellent online publication in PDF format that gives clear guidance for laws concerning non-profit exempt activity and political campaigns. I have also spoken to IRS personnel by phone.

What we found out from the IRS is if the cell phone was paid for by a 501(c)3, which the Alliance is not yet, and political activity was conducted on that phone, that would be a problem under exempt activity. However, since my phone is paid for personally and the Alliance office does not house a 501(c)3, but the Alliance is rather a donor advised fund under the umbrella of a 501 (c) housed in another place, there is no conflict with the phone being used by the Alliance and for campaign activity. But, wanting to be thorough and careful that we were abiding by not only federal Section 501 laws, but also state MEC laws, we also called the MEC, who advised what I stated in my previous posting—that if the phone is paid for personally, we should simply pro-rate campaign use from personal and charitable use and have the campaign pay for that portion. 

Your questions are legitimate and we did consult both the IRS and MEC on the office and phone issues. What I object to us that you made assumptions and published incomplete and erroneous information that was false and misleading, which could damage my reputation and hurt our funding, which could cause orphans and widows to suffer. That is why I responded. We and our partners care for thousands of orphans and widows all over the world who rely on the support of our organizations for their very sustenance.

My campaign website and literature stated our campaign office is in Suite 1 and our Alliance for Orphans website states our Alliance office is in Suite 2. Perhaps you overlooked that?

Concerning your additional post about other Blogger assertions, here is my response. As I previously shared, the Alliance for Orphans and Widows was set up in early 2006 under the umbrella of a 501(c)3 community foundation. The IRS calls that umbrella status. It enables donor advised funds to function like a foundation and receive tax-deductible donations and make grants to non-profits without having to absorb overhead costs and deal with administrative, legal and tax issues. The community foundation provides all of that. That is the current configuration of the Alliance for Orphans and Widows.

While we have prepared an IRS form 1023 to file for 501(c)3 status, we held off because of my nomination to run for public office. We wanted to be careful to avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest between a non-profit status and political campaign. Another reason was that all the administration for the Alliance for Orphans and Widows is provided by the 501(c)3 community foundation where the donor advised fund is held. 
This configuration is how various community foundations in the greater Kansas City area operate. They provide all the back office and administration, typically for 1% per year. With our Alliance office funded by supporters, the donor advised fund has enabled us to operate the Alliance with no overhead costs and send 100% of donations received to their designated projects and purposes, both to outstanding charitable organizations in Kansas City and orphan and widow care partners overseas. It also enables me as a public servant to maintain a degree of separation from a traditional 501(c)3 configuration. That above explanation is why the other Blogger did not find the Alliance for Orphans and Widows registered with SOS as a Missouri Not-for-Profit, while Children of Promise International has been registered as such since 1974. It was a legitimate question and I have given you the answer.

As for your question of why I have not responded to your previous postings, as I shared, I do not normally read political Blogs and have never responded to any before now—and may not again. I serve my constituents in the 47th District and the people of Missouri, do my multi-faceted charitable work here in Lee’s Summit, greater Kansas City and worldwide, and am a husband and father of eight children. Life is busy and Blog responses are not a high priority.

Concerning your previous postings about me, I would not be inclined to respond to any politically driven postings about me that contain false and misleading statements. Contrary to your education posting about me, I have been a very strong supporter of public education and Lee’s Summit R-7 schools and helped lead the fight to defeat legislation adverse to our district. I have a very positive relationship with our School Superintendent, School Board members and teachers and administrators and am very proactive on their behalf on many fronts and am endorsed by the Missouri State Teachers Association.

As for your environmental posting, I voted for several environmentally friendly pieces of legislation, including alternative energy bills and the Easy Connect Act sponsored by a Democratic colleague in the House.

Your first post about me claimed I voted to lift limits on campaign contributions when I was not even a member of the Missouri House of Representatives when those votes took place. Again and again, you have made false statements about me and my work. Such is politics.

As I shared at the onset of our discussion, when you make false statements and misrepresentations about me politically, I am not inclined to respond. That’s the nature of the business and I am thick skinned on that front. You wrote of my Party’s campaign last election. There are aspects of independent mailings—of which candidates can legally have no knowledge of or control—that I do not like either. However, I will say that while the Missouri Republican Party’s mail about my opponent was at least documented, none of the mail the Missouri Democratic Party sent out against me with false charges or the cable TV ads they ran against me were documented. Independent expenditures in campaigns independent of candidates can be nasty, unfortunately, and it runs both ways. 

The only reason I responded now is that your false, distorted and misleading claims about my former compensation, offices, phone and charitable work were all false from the start to finish in your posting. You stated I have an ethics problem and I simply do not. I am, and have always been, careful to abide by IRS and MEC regulations. Because I am a public figure, you can say almost anything in the Blogosphere with immunity from libel and slander liability. If I were not a public figure, and this were to be—hypothetically—argued in court, you would most certainly have your hands full. But, don’t worry, I am only speaking hypothetically. I would just simply implore you, as you are an attorney, to be more careful about what you publish if you want to become a more credible Blogger.

The misrepresentations you published have the potential—if uncontested—to mislead readers, which—in this age of Google—could damage my credibility and ability to raise tax-deductible charitable donations to care for orphans and widows and the poor here and all over the world for which we care. For their sake and that of my family and good name, I was compelled to respond.

You stated I bucked the Catholic Conference. I did not buck them and take strong exception with that false assertion. I responded to their legislative survey and have spoken with the Bishop about issues important to the Catholic community, including pro-life issues with which I share their positions. One of the things I appreciate most about my charitable work is that it has given me the opportunity to work with the Protestant, Catholic and Jewish communities here and around the world.

Concerning your reference to tax cuts for the wealthy, the Social Security tax cut for seniors (HB 444), it is not a tax cut for the wealthy as you write. It eliminates state taxes on Social Security benefits across the board for all seniors, from those with low incomes to those with incomes of up to $100,000 per year. I can send you data from the Joint Committee on Oversight and the University of Missouri to document this if you like. Wealthy seniors get a higher amount in reduced taxes because they paid more into the system. The assertion of tax cuts for the wealthy is not fair to any seniors who should not be unjustly double taxed on their hard earned money. I am passionately dedicated to respect and protect the interests of seniors and was thankful to be honored as Freshman Legislator of the Year for Children and Senior Advocacy. Nearly 90% of my constituents supported the Senior Tax Justice Act and it also provide tax relief for publicly pensioned employees, including teachers, police officers, firefighters, railroad workers and state and federal employees.

You also mentioned Medicaid cuts. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee on Health, Mental Health and Social Services, I can share some observations. While I was not in the House at the time the Medicaid cuts were made—and opposed some aspects of the Medicaid reform back then—the reality is our state faced a billion-dollar deficit. Missouri Medicaid had grown so exponentially that it threatened to bankrupt the state and overrun education funding.

In 2005, for the first time ever, Medicaid costs exceeded education funding in Missouri and more than twenty other states. A 2005 study by the Joint Committee on Research showed that Missouri had people on the rolls receiving Medicaid benefits—some of whom were deceased, others whom were living out of state, and still others making over $100,000 a year. That is not to mention the many fraudulently receiving Medicaid. I would be happy to send you a copy of that report. The lack of re-verification of those eligible for Medicaid was contributing to the exponential growth. When the opportunity for re-authorization was offered a very small percentage applied.

When Medicaid began over 40 years ago it was only about a one billion dollar outlay federally with Missouri receiving a small portion of that. Today, Medicaid is approaching a half trillion dollars a year nationwide. The entitlement mentality among many recipients was not the original intent of Congress when they first passed Medicaid in 1966. It was intended for the genuinely poor and needy, especially the disabled, not for multitudes of those who live in an entitlement mentality who have come to rely on the government and tax payers to pay their way for life. 

I believe we have a problem at both ends of the Medicaid spectrum. At one end, removing those from the Medicaid rolls who misuse and fraudulently abuse the system unjustly, and at the other end caring for the most needy, especially the disabled, who genuinely need Medicaid assistance. Runaway Medicaid costs cannot be allowed to rob education funding from our schools and students. We have much to do yet on both fronts.

While Medicaid has seen the largest increases in the state budget, funding for education has increased by over a half billion dollars in the last three years without a tax increase. If there is one thing I have heard in the House among some of your fellow Democrats is they want to raise Missourians’ taxes. They proposed a nearly 1 billion dollar tax increase last year in HB 1960. I oppose tax increases for Missourians’ and advocate continuing to grow our economy, which is increasing our tax revenue base for education and social services without a tax increase.

Fighting for the poor and needy, especially the most vulnerable among us, including genuinely needy seniors, children and the disabled, is my greatest legislative passion. At the same time, I advocate responsible compassion. We have to be responsible to balance the budget and exercise fiscal responsibility and—at the same time—make sure we are caring for the most vulnerable and needy among us. 

Senate Bill 577 which mandates MO Health Net, the new name for Medicaid, contains over 30 provisions, including increase coverage for 13,500 children. The Governor’s proposed Insure Missouri will dramatically increase the number of poor children and families covered by health care. SB 577 also increases funding for Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD), as well as allowing disabled workers in sheltered workshops to keep more of their hard earned money. It also contains provisions for dental, vision, hospice care and durable medical equipment, as well as expansion of health care coverage for children in foster care from 18 to 21 years of age. The budget calls for 6.4 billion dollars in federal and state funding for MO Health Net, including 946.6 million in new funding. SB 577 also has provisions to reduce fraud and update technology which will reduce costs by hundreds of millions. It is not an end all, but an important step in the right direction. We must seek continual improvement.

I don’t want to belabor this anymore online out of respect for your readers. I have sought to thoroughly answer your questions and thank you for them and allowing me the opportunity to post my answers for the potential benefit of those who might read them. I have spent more time on this than I should and will leave you to Blog away. I will continue my passionate commitment to public service as State Representative for the citizens of the 47th District and my family and charitable work. If you wish to talk more or have additonal questions, I suggest we converse offline out of respect for your readers. Thank you.

Respectfully submitted,

Rep. Jeff Grisamore

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