Incorporate Olympic Valley alters financial structure to 3 bank accounts | SierraSun.com

Incorporate Olympic Valley alters financial structure to 3 bank accounts

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com

Incorporate Olympic Valley chairman Fred Ilfeld.

OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — Incorporate Olympic Valley has made several changes to its financial structure in response to a violation claim filed with the Fair Political Practices Commission earlier this year.

The grassroots group pushing for the creation of the town of Olympic Valley now has three bank accounts rather than one in order to keep political and nonpolitical funds separate.

Nonpolitical donations now funnel into "Incorporate OV Foundation," a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization seeking charitable status, said Fred Ilfeld, chair of Incorporate OV Foundation.

Those funds are used to cover incorporation process expenses, such as Placer County Local Agency Formation Commission fees and a fiscal viability study.

"Donations will likely be tax-deductible to donors as charitable contributions. We expect a final determination by the IRS regarding the deductibility in early 2015," according to the IOV website. "If the IRS determines we are a charitable organization, which we believe is most likely, all donations starting from August 2014 would retroactively qualify as tax deductible."

Meanwhile, "Incorporate OV" is a new 501(c)4 nonprofit organization that has two separate bank accounts — one for nonpolitical uses and one for political uses, Ilfeld said.

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The nonpolitical account is different from Incorporate OV Foundation in that it's not seeking to be a charitable tax-deductible organization; however, it can contribute to incorporation expenses.

POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS

A third account — a political action committee called "Incorporate Olympic Valley PAC" — has also been created; it funds promotion efforts for incorporation such as political campaigning and marketing.

"We put in a lot of time and finances into coming up with this structure right here so we are legal," said Tom Day, a board member on the Incorporate OV Foundation.

Donations made to the nonpolitical accounts and names of those who made them do not have to be disclosed unless the donor requests to be revealed, Ilfeld said.

"It puts the decision in the donor's hands, not ours, which is very important around here," Day said. "It's a small community and the ski (corporation) has made it very clear that (it is) very against this, so it makes it hard for people to support us if they are reliant on the ski area for their livelihood."

Donations of $100 or more to Incorporate Olympic Valley PAC and those who made them in a calendar year are reported to the FPPC, becoming public information, per state law.

Board members of Incorporate OV ­— Ilfeld, Lisa Cardin and Nancy Elrod — have made $29,649 in monetary contributions to the PAC this calendar year, according to FPPC forms filed with Placer County Elections.

Up until about mid-May, IOV raised roughly $97,000 from more than 200 donors for the incorporation effort, Ilfeld said, after which the group found out it wasn't required to disclose total funds raised.

Meanwhile, $32,269.16 in payments have been made as of Sept. 30 — with $4,025.03 in unpaid bills, according to PAC filings.

Expenditures include professional services (legal, accounting), information technology costs/campaign consultants, campaign paraphernalia/miscellaneous and office expenses.

INVESTIGATION CONTINUES

In early May, a claim was filed with the FPPC citing IOV's failure to file a statement of organization, monthly campaign statements and include disclaimers on campaign advertisements.

"(At that time) we did not realize that we were political," said Cardin, board chair for Incorporate OV and secretary for Incorporate OV Foundation. "There are no candidates, nothing's on the ballot. We hadn't even gone through the LAFCO process, so at (that) point we're thinking we're just a grassroots movement."

Once the group was notified of the claim, they worked roughly two months on creating the new financial structure with the help of attorneys.

"We did not wait for (the FPPC) to say whether we were right or wrong, we just went, 'OK, wow, we're wrong. We've got to fix this,' so we didn't wait for them to tell us," Day said. "We went ahead and did it."

FPPC communications director Jay Wierenga said Wednesday the investigation into the group is ongoing.

"It is not surprising that the FPPC is taking this seriously and that the investigation is ongoing," said Sean Welch, treasurer for Save Olympic Valley, a coalition questioning the incorporation effort. "The complaint involves serious violations of failing to disclose donors."

Meanwhile, Ilfeld said: "We've got our organization set up, so we are in business."

Visit fppc.ca.gov to learn more about California Fair Political Practices.

More online

Visit incorporateolympicvalley.org” target=”_blank”>Bold”>incorporateolympicvalley.org to learn more about the Incorporate Olympic Valley movement.