Bootleggers and Baptists . . . and Hucksterism: How the Sierra Club and the Sierra Club Foundation Violate Non-Profit Law
On September 17, 2014, E&E Legal released a detailed report outlining IRS violations committed by the Sierra Club and the Sierra Club Foundation including impermissible benefit to private interests and failure to pay taxes on unrelated business income. E&E Legal sent the report to the IRS along with a “referral,” which sought the tax agency’s careful review and investigation into these potential tax law violations.
Regarding its failure to pay taxes on unrelated business income, the Sierra Club sends its members into communities to sell the products of a selected local solar panel company in Maryland, Utah and dozens of other states in exchange for contributions to the group. In Maryland, for example, the Sierra Club makes a $750 profit from every sale and has never paid taxes on that commercial enterprise.
In terms of impermissible benefits to private interest, the Sierra Club’s use of its War on Coal not only produce profits, but apparently conspires with the companies that profit from that war. Eight of the Sierra Club Foundation’s 18 directors own or operate organizations that directly benefit from the War on Coal. These directors are the captains of the renewable energy industry. While the Sierra Club Foundation doesn’t pay these directors, their companies directly profit from the Sierra Club Foundation’s primary “program,” the War on Coal.