ABQ anti-abortion leaders abuse non-profit status, direct donations to their own personal use

On January 23, 2015 the NM Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice filed a complaint with the IRS  on behalf of the New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, against local anti-abortion protestors Henry “Bud” and Tara Shaver who appear to be using non-profit donations for their personal benefit.

The money that non-profits receive from our donors does not belong to us. We have a duty to see that the donor’s money is used according to the mission of the organization. It’s so disappointing that donors to Project Defending Life were misled. Instead of using these donations to assist pregnant women in need, the stated mission of Project Defending Life, these donations were used by the Shavers to pay their own bills.

The self-described “missionaries” routinely raise money through their monthly newsletter for their controversial protests. Emails and newsletters from the Shavers to supporters routinely direct donors to “make all donations out to Project Defending Life, earmarked for Bud and Tara Shaver.”  Project Defending Life Newsletter

According to our complaint, Project Defending Life, a 501(c)(3) organization, may have violated one of the most basic tenets of tax exempt organizations by allowing, possibly encouraging, and presumably accepting donations solicited by and earmarked specifically for the private benefit of the Shavers, and the Shavers alone. Tax exempt organizations must essentially serve a public interest, not a private one, in order to be tax exempt.

You know Bud and Tara Shaver from their failed attempt in 2013 to pass an abortion ban in the city of Albuquerque. They are known for their highly controversial public ministry tactics which include targeting doctors at their homes and neighborhoods and distributing wanted-style pamphlets and postcards with pictures of local providers and the caption, “Killers Among Us!”

In 2007, Bud was arrested after targeting and seriously disrupting a church service – where Dr. George Tiller worshiped, just two years before he was murdered during the Sunday morning service in the very same church by Scott Roeder. At about that same time, the Shavers moved to Wichita, Kansas to spend a year ‘training’ with Operation Rescue, which had its tax exempt status revoked in 2006. They moved to Albuquerque in 2010, at the invitation of Project Defending Life.

About Joan Lamunyon Sanford

Executive Director of the NM Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
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2 Responses to ABQ anti-abortion leaders abuse non-profit status, direct donations to their own personal use

  1. Joan Lamunyon Sanford says:

    To qualify as an exempt organization described in § 501(c)(3), an organization must demonstrate that no part of its net earnings will benefit a private shareholder or individual.
    By soliciting donations (Please make all donations out to Project Defending Life, earmarked for “Bud or Tara Shaver”. These donations are tax deductible and 100% of your donation supports our family.) the donation benefits the Shavers directly, not the mission of the organization.
    Non-profits have a responsibility to pay their employees a fair wage for their work to fulfill the mission of the organization.
    But by directing donors to “earmark donations for Bud or Tara Shaver” and that “100% of the donation goes to help our family” none of the donations are going to fulfill the mission of the non-profit, which according to Project Defending Life is to assist pregnant women in need.

  2. robert says:

    As long as the amount directed to them is not excessive, it is probably legal. Missionaries have raised support in this way for decades with no problems with the IRS. I think you should study IRS case law before making claims because from a neutral perspective, this is likely going nowhere unless the funds were being used for excessive or lavish personal expenses. If they were being used for housing, food, basic life expenses then this is going nowhere.