Mueller-Robak: Raking in Lavish Lobbying Fees from ‘Mostly Medicaid’ “Non-Profit” but not Conducting Due Diligence

August 30, 2012


WASHINGTON, D.C. (exlusive) by Ivy Harper

A recap: I’ve been studying the federally-mandated IRS Form 990’s of a handful of Nebraska “non-profits” and finding all sorts of fascinating facts.

For example, on the NU Foundation’s most recent Report, the Foundation lists as their “top five” disbursements all “investment advisers,” something that is almost unheard of at other public federal/Morrill Land Grant Act University Foundations. Truth be told, that’s rare at most Ivy League universities.

Additionally, two of the addresses the NU Foundation lists– which are Post Office boxes – for two of the “investment advisers” – do not match the cities or companies the “investment advisers” cited as the ones they were aligned with. How strange.

Beyond that, Union Bank – which along with the NU Foundation has overlapping Directors – was given more than $350,000 (three hundred fifty thousand dollars) for “investment” advice. In most worlds, that’s a conflict of interest the size of, let’s say, the city of Tampa.

Then, there’s the York-based Epworth Village headed up by President and CEO, Tom McBride, whose annual salary simply cannot be gleaned from the Report: it’s either around $92,000 or more than $400,000. The Epworth Village employee that I was trying to get the correct McBride salary figure from had “more” pages in their IRS 990 than the one I was viewing. And so on.

As we were comparing notes, they kept saying, “Well, my copy – on x and x page – has this figure but the IRS Form 990 that was working with on-line, flat-out, did not show the pages the Epworth employee was referencing.

I asked who handles the website and learned that it is Thatcher McBride, the son of Tom McBride, who acts as the non-profit’s communications person.

On the 2010 Form 990, Tom McBride, answered Question 28: “During the tax year, did any person who is a current or former officer, director, trustee, or key employee [meaning Epworth Village President & CEO] b) have a family member who had a direct or indirect business relationship with the organization with an unqualified: “No” despite the fact that his son handles public relations and the website. Interesting.

Since my questioning of that disparity, an Epworth Village spokesman said that Epworth will “amend” its IRS Form 990.

According to an IRS spokesperson, all IRS Form 990’s must – when first submitted – be “accurate and complete.”

Yet another interesting fact taken from Epworth Village’s IRS Form 990 is that the “Department” Thatcher McBride heads up spent $100,000 (one hundred thousand dollars) on “promotion” which is quite a chunk of change. I’d really like to see the “invoices” for that advertising and see which advertising firms in Nebraska have Epworth Village as their client; or whether the work is done “in-house,” as they say.

Tom McBride also checked “no” when the IRS asked if the non-profit engaged in any kind of lobbying.

Yet, the defunct-since-2011 “Children & Family Coalition of Nebraska” gave the lobbying firm, Mueller-Robak $47,000 in 2011 and has agreed to give Mueller-Robak that same amount – $47,000 – in 2012.

To date, according to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission (NADC) Mueller-Robak has received around $23,000 from a “Coalition” that was “dissolved” by the State of Nebraska for failure to properly report.

According to the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office, the now-dissolved “Children & Family Coalition of Nebraska” “should not be in the business” of giving money to Mueller-Robak given that the Coalition is now considered by the State to be what is termed “a bad actor.”

When asked whose responsibility it is to determine whether a Nebraska “non-profit” is in good standing with the State before taking lavish lobbying fees from it – meaning, is the onus on Mueller-Robak or the Coalition to acknowledge its status to Mueller-Robak – a spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office said, “I would think Mueller-Robak would do due diligence before accepting monies from any non-profit.”

The sub-text was: most especially a “non-profit” that gets almost all of its monies from the federal/state government via Medicaid.

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