Prior to last year’s November school referendum, pundits were using social media to disseminate information, some true and some false. Honest mistakes can be made and should be excused, but personal attacks on individuals or groups should be deemed unacceptable.
Citizens for Accountable Government (CAG) raised numerous questions about the school district’s plans that should have been answered. Instead, CAG and some of its supporters found themselves being discredited with false accusations by school district leadership and some of their diehard supporters.
One such accusation circulated on social media was that CAG was operating an illegal charity. One individual (whose name we won’t share) went so far as to file a complaint with the State Attorney General’s office.
Consequently, the Attorney General’s office contacted CAG leadership. In its letter to CAG, the AG’s office spelled out that the MN Charitable Solicitation ACT requires that a charitable organization that solicits or plans to solicit contributions in excess of $25,000, has paid staff, or uses a professional fund-raiser must register with the MN AG’s office.
Let’s be clear. CAG is not a charitable organization, has never claimed to be, and has never solicited or made plans to solicit contributions in excess of $25,000. Contributions to CAG have always been very minimal. That’s because its expenditures, which typically include a small fee for maintenance of its website and the occasional printing of a brochure, are minimal. There is no reason, legally or otherwise, that CAG needs to be registered as a charity with the State of Minnesota.
The idea that CAG was operating an illegal charity may have been the fall-out from School Board Chairman Richard Wolf’s letter to the editor of the Prior Lake American, falsely claiming that CAG had hired an anti-education consultant. Consultants are not cheap (consider what Nexus Soultions gets paid), and possibly the individual who filed the complaint with the AG’s office, concluded from Wolf’s letter that CAG was raking in lots of cash.
The AG’s office was provided with factual information regarding CAG and its financials, which put the question to rest. Sadly, however, there will be those who believe what was circulated on social media, just as there will be those who believe what School Board Chair Wolf had to say, even though it was a lie.
Lastly, it should be known that CAG does accept contributions to support its effort to distribute factual information to our community. We are not a charity so contributions are not tax-deductible.