Orange County Register Questions Ron Thomas's Nonprofit Status

R. Scott Moxley
Questions about the money raised by the Kelly Thomas Memorial Foundation and how it's being spent continue to swirl. Two weeks ago, the Weekly wrote about a scuffle of words between Ron Thomas,  father of slain homeless man Kelly Thomas, and Stephan Baxter, organizer of Art With an Agenda. The July art show was held to benefit KTMF and raised $10,000 for the foundation. But as of two weeks ago Baxter, as well as members of Kelly's Army wanted to know where a chunk of that money--promised by Thomas to local charities-- had gone.

Today, the Orange County Register weighed in with questions of its own.

In a piece that focused on the foundation's non-profit status, the Reg accused Thomas of being less than forthcoming about the group's finances. 

Though neither he or his attorney Garo Mardirossian satisfied Reg requests for an IRS Form 1023, which all non-profit foundations are legally required to have, a defiant sounding Thomas maintained that the foundation's activities are legal.

"If you can't find it, that's not our problem," Thomas told the Reg. "We'll let you make fools of yourselves."

When reporters told Thomas of the urgency of their request, he responded, "What do we owe you? Do we owe you something? To the Orange County Register?"

You can't blame Ron for being skeptical of a Reg reporter's questions--this is the paper, after all, who initially bought all the bullshit spun at them by the Fullerton Police Department and whom still has in its payroll infamous bootlicker David Whiting. So thinking perhaps their requests were unreasonable, the Reg consulted a non-profit watchdog called Charity Navigator whose Vice President Sandra Miniutti responded via email. 

"All tax exempt organizations have to provide copies of their form 1023," Miniutti wrote. "However, an organization that has not yet been recognized as tax exempt is not required to provide a copy of its pending form 1023. Of course, that doesn't apply here b/c the group is telling you that they did get nonprofit status."

The webpage for KTMF, started by Thomas in 2011, clearly states it is a non-profit organization and that it's dedicated to serving homeless men women and children of Orange County. However it is not listed on the state's registry of charitable organizations. 

Screenshot taken from Kelly Thomas Memorial Foundation page.

Taking issue with Thomas's refusal to turn over the requested documentation, the Reg, with typical right-wing flair wrote, " Tax exempt organizations, and their donors, are getting a break from the government. They don't have to pay taxes on their revenues, and their donors get to subtract from their taxable income. That's a privilege, and the responsibility that comes with that privilege is that exempt organizations must spend their money wisely, and for good works. That's why nonprofit are required by law to file financial information with the IRS--so the public, and donors, and yes, even the Register, can see with a reasonable degree of transparency how that money is being handled."

 And there you have it. The Orange County Register: unlikely voice of reason.
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paullucas714 topcommenter

By that logic, we should be able to critique the Crystal cathedral and all the gaudy mega churches i.e TBN about the oppulance of their digs and the incredible salaries garnered by the preachers.Ask the register to have the same standard for rick warren and the crouses.


Finally, reporters asking some relevant questions and questioning the credibility of Ron Thomas. Here's a copy and paste of a recent comment I posted regarding additional questions that should be asked: I'm glad this is finally getting some attention. There are several questions that come to mind about Ron Thomas that the press has never bothered to pursue. In addition to the questions about the KTMF donations, I think it's long overdue for a journalist to clarify the following: Is he genetically related to Kelly? If not, then followup questions should be asked about his parental involvement in Kelly's life. Have they ever lived together under the same roof? For how long? Did he ever support Kelly financially? What about his divorce from the anything mentioned about support or custody for Kelly? What sort of efforts were made by Ron, say, within the last five years, to support Kelly and get him on the right track. When the story broke, Ron made comments indicating he was an expert in police tactics, given that he was a former deputy and tactics instructor. How long did he work for OCSD? When? Why did he stop working there? Did he resign, or was he terminated? If he resigned, was it it lieu of termination? If so, why was he going to be terminated? When did he instruct police officers, and under what circumstances? What qualifies him to be a tactics instructor? He's also made comments that he has instructed the military, and I'd like to see some clarification there as well. What does he do for work? I believe his electrician's license (#680207) expired in 2005. The name on the license is Frederick Ronald Thomas Jr. He's made statements indicating he continues to work as an electrician. Is he working as an unlicensed contractor? Don't confuse my raising these questions with how I feel about the Kelly Thomas case. Thomas should not have died that night and it was the fault of FPD. Nonetheless, I've been amazed at the reluctance of journalists to question anything at all about Ron Thomas and his credibility.



The register also reported that Kelly Thomas attacked the officers which such force that one of them suffered broken bones.

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