CASTLE ROCK – Private donors committed to improving K-12 education paid former U.S. of Secretary of Education Bill Bennett $50,000 to speak and consult on behalf of DougCo schools in 2013.
Now, with the school board election just a few weeks away liberal activists are crying foul, claiming the non-profit that facilitated the funding, the Douglas County Educational Foundation, improperly used the funds for “political purposes.”
Some, including Democrat activist Susan Arnold, are calling for an IRS audit of DCEF and its tax-exempt status.
Earlier this year, the Internal Revenue Service came under Congressional and public scrutiny after it became clear that senior officials were intentionally targeting non-profit organizations based on their names and links to political activity.
IRS officials acknowledged earlier this year that they targeted groups that applied for taxpayer exempt status as 501 (c) 3 organizations with the names “tea party,” “patriots,’ and “9/12” in them.
School board member Doug Benevento told The Observer Douglas County Democrats are using the volatile election season to mislead voters.
“The IRS has been accused of doing this in the past, of using its power to suppress people with a viewpoint that the administration doesn’t share,” said Benevento. “This appears to be an attempt by left leaning groups in DougCo to do the same.”
School board President John Carson made clear that the donations were private, and that they “[fund] various functions of the district.”
According to superintendent Dr. Liz Fagen on her blog, “private funders paid for their time/work in our district to provide an expert, third-party review… As you might imagine, we are lucky to have these international education experts in our district, and it is customary to pay experts for their work…”
“This type of third-party review, feedback, and validation is critical to our goal of world-class, continuous improvement,” said Fagen.
Liberal activists are “asking the IRS to do what they’ve been accused of doing in the past, because they’re Republicans running a non-profit,” said Benevento.
“It’s clear that this is an attempt by the Democrats to use the IRS to achieve their partisan political ends, “ Benevento added.
Benevento, along with Meghann Silverthorn, Jim Geddes, and Judi Reynolds, are facing the AFL-CIO backed slate of candidates on November 5.