FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Congressman Bill Posey has held several large campaign fundraising events at the American Muscle Car Museum, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation owned by businessman Mark Pieloch. According to Posey himself and supported by Facebook photos, these events have had a turnout of over 1,000 donors from September 11, 2018 and September 7, 2019. However, according to Posey’s own campaign finance reports, there are only potentially up to 10 donations claimed in his reports for both years combined. Where is the money? There are some funds reported in the unitemized category.
At the 2019 event, Posey claimed over 800 attendees with a minimum donation of $5. There is one $5 donation in existence in ANY of Posey’s reports. Further, the standard admission charge to this museum for fundraisers is $100/person. This is reflected in the dozens of additional fundraisers the organization hosts for other charities yearly. In fact at Posey’s 2018 event, this was the minimum admission price with VIP tickets going for $1,000/each.
Because of the significant admission reduction of $95 per person, this would count as an in-kind donation from the corporation to the campaign for each person admitted at that price. It would be comparable to having Disney host a fundraiser for you and only charging $5 for admission. Thousands would show up. With just the 800 in attendance, that would be a minimum in-kind contribution of $76,000. That far exceeds the limit of $5,600 from any one entity.
However, the American Muscle Car Museum is prohibited from donating to federal campaigns because it is a corporation. It is also prohibited because of its 501(c)(3) tax exemption status. So even if the Museum was allowed to give, which it isn’t, it severely contributed well above the legal limits. It has also put its tax exemption status at risk for participating in political campaigns.
Campaigns are prohibited from accepting contributions from certain types of organizations and individuals. These prohibited sources are:Except from https://www.fec.gov/help-candidates-and-committees/candidate-taking-receipts/who-can-and-cant-contribute/
Corporations, including nonprofit corporations (although funds from a corporate separate segregated fund are permissible)
Labor organizations (although funds from a separate segregated fund are permissible)
Federal government contractors
Contributions in the name of another
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.Excerpt from irs.gov
Further, Mark Pieloch has a history of tax issues, being arrested in Nebraska in 2011 for felony sales tax evasion on his very large car collection valued over $35 million. The charges were eventually dropped when he agreed to pay the taxes which led to him relocating his pharmaceutical business to Brevard County to which he got a tax abatement, and opened his “museum” to house his collection tax free. Pieloch does contribute to many charities in the area.
Congressman Posey prides himself on claims of accountability, however no one can account for the thousands of dollars that have been raised form these illegal campaign fundraising events. For that reason, and at the advice of the FEC, we have filed a formal complaint. The complaint is attached below. Campaign finance reform will be one of the major issues on the top of my priorities once elected.