The acting attorney general worked for the group for three years.
Contrary to its claims in news releases and a tax filing, the group was created under a different name two years before Whitaker’s arrival, according to incorporation and IRS records. At least two of the organizers were involved in another conservative charity using the same address.
In its application to the IRS for status as a tax-exempt organization, the organizers reported that the group would study the impact of environmental regulations on businesses, records show. In that incarnation, the group took no action and “only existed on paper,” one man named in IRS filings as a board member told The Washington Post. Another named in a state filing as a board member said he never agreed to be on the board.
Whitaker’s 2017 pay from the charity — more than $500,000 for the first nine months, or half the charity’s receipts for the year, according to tax filings — and the group’s earlier, dormant incarnation have not been previously reported by media.
Whitaker did not respond to requests for interviews. Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec declined to answer detailed questions about his involvement in FACT, referring a reporter to the charity.
A FACT spokesman who provided a statement on the condition that his name not be used declined to disclose the source of its funding.
“Like nearly all non-profit organizations — including those with similarly stated missions — FACT does not and is not required to release its donor information,” the statement said. “This protects free speech rights of all of these groups’ supporters as outlined in the First Amendment.”
The statement said that FACT “properly notified the IRS of its name change.”
“It is not unusual for a corporation, not for profit or profit, to refine its name and purpose, and since its inception FACT’s purpose has always been consistent with non-profit law and all appropriate notifications were made,” the statement said.
The spokesman did not respond to questions about whether the group told the IRS about its change in mission, as is required by IRS rules.