According to their published career profiles, Anita M. Bhatt and Mary Ann Wyrsch are experienced professionals who both played senior administrative roles at the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund (BCKF), created to help victims of the historic hurricane.
Yet, on March 8, 2006, Bhatt, who was BCKF’s chief financial officer, and Wyrsch, the fund’s executive director, falsely swore under oath in Washington, D.C., in a registration form sent across state lines to the attorney general of the state of Minnesota, that no nonprofit organizations provided support to BCKF.
The specific question posed was 18A on a Unified Registration Statement that was marked received in Minnesota on March 13, 2006: “Does [BCKF] receive financial support from other nonprofit organizations (foundations, public charities, combined campaigns, etc.)?
Bhatt and Wyrsch answered “no” and signed the initial registration for Minnesota under the following sentence: “Under penalties of perjury, we certify that the above information and the information contained in any attachments or supplement is true, correct and complete.”
As attachment F, Bhatt and Wyrsch provided a “good faith estimate” of BCKF’s financial results through Jan. 31, 2006, showing $83.1 million in unrestricted contributions accounted for on a cash basis, which means counting only amounts deposited into BCKF bank accounts by Jan. 31, 2006. This estimate was demonstrably false on the date it was made.
Known Grants/Pledges to BCKF received before March 8, 2006. Between Oct. 4, 2005, and March 6, 2006, six nonprofit organizations made grants or pledges to BCKF, totaling at least $99.9 million. To see supporting details, visit Propublica’s Nonprofit Explorer and punch in the Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) for each entity named below here:
Greater Houston Community Foundation (FEIN 23-7160400) sent $52,330,252 in December 2005 and $7.7 million on Feb. 10, 2006, to BCKF for a total of $60,030,252, before Bhatt and Wyrsch registered in Minnesota with their false claims, as is confirmed in this email:
The William J. Clinton Foundation (TWJCF, FEIN 31-1580204) raised at least $26,388,152 after Aug. 29, 2005, through Dec. 31, 2005, according to accounting work product issued June 9, 2006, by the firm BKD LLP, as explained in footnote 7 on page 12 and in detail in footnote 12, on page 14.
“…[TWJCF] raised approximately $26.5 million for the benefit of [BCKF] during 2005. These funds are reported as temporarily restricted revenue and net assets on [TWJCF’s] financial statements. Subsequent to year-end, all funds raised on behalf of [BCKF] were transferred from the Foundation to the Fund.”
As an aside, a determination letter was issued Dec. 13, 2005, to BCKF under Lois G. Lerner’s signature, meaning that TWJCF had every right to send monies raised during 2005 starting Dec. 13, 2005, so it is not clear why TWJCF held onto the substantial sums raised in 2005 until an as-yet undetermined date in 2006.
According to disclosures in the TWJCF federal tax return for 2006, a total of $30,082,400 was sent to BCKF during 2006 (see page 49).
On Sept. 21, 2005, the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation (Berger, FEIN 52-1757432) made a $5 million challenge pledge:
‘[Berger] will match any monetary contributions from Southern California’s private citizens, businesses, and other private foundations to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund up to $5 million. [Berger] challenges those in Southern California to contribute to [BCKF] in an effort to show their support of the Gulf Region.”
On or after May 16, 2006, Berger sent $5 million to BCKF at 55 W. 125th Street in New York. The BCKF may not have registered this location in New York, however, as New York law requires.
The Wasserman Foundation (FEIN 95-6038762) sent $500,000 to BCKF by Dec. 31, 2005, and the Clinton Family Foundation (FEIN 30-0048438) sent $25,000 to BCKF by Dec. 31, 2005.
All told, these six nonprofit corporations sent or pledged amounts of at least $99,893,404 prior to March 8, 2006, when Bhatt and Wyrsch illegally registered across state lines using the mail and/or telephone lines with the state of Minnesota.
Food for thought about the BCKF illegal registration in Minnesota. In answer to question 16, Bhatt and Wyrsch stated that they accounted for BCKF using “accrual” rather than “cash” methods, so it is curious that they provided an estimate of results through Jan. 31, 2006, using the cash method instead of the accrual method.
Moreover, the government of Kuwait made and may have honored a pledge of $25 million before BCKF registered in Minnesota.
A slew of other donors (nonprofit and other corporations and individuals) was touted as intending to support BCKF as early as Sept. 5, 2005. The Bhatt/Wyrsch estimate appears therefore to be false and materially misleading.
Now that the Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz has confirmed there were investigations into the Clinton Foundation in 2016, and, since we know that the FBI and U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Cody Hiland, may have been evaluating the Clinton Foundation record for months, American taxpayers have the right to know why it has taken so long for law enforcement to bring perpetrators of seemingly large charity frauds to justice.
Meanwhile, former Reps, Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) and Steve Stockman (R-Texas) were recently convicted for serious crimes involving nonprofit “charities” and much smaller amounts of money. Where is it written that those who commit charity frauds in the names of former presidents are too big to jail?
Charles Ortel, a retired investment banker, concentrates on exposing complex frauds in his new career as an investigator, writer and commentator. Since August 2017, he has been hosting the “Sunday with Charles” podcast and covering the Clinton Foundation case in depth, using publicly available source materials. See his previous LifeZette contributions.
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