Last year, just after the news of his leading role in the Fiesta Bowl scandal broke and just before the petitions were submitted to force his ultimately-successful recall election, Russell Pearce formed a charity, the Pearce Johnson Foundation. Its stated purpose was "to bring clean water to Haiti first, then other developing countries", and solicited contributions from the public for that purpose.
At the time, there wasn't much information available on the "foundation", but given the newness of the foundation, a low profile wasn't too surprising.
It's been a year, however, and the Pearce Johnso Foundation isn't just "low-profile", it seems to be "no-profile".
- The Arizona Secretary of State's charity database has nothing on it -
- Because the foundation was created with the assistance of a California-based political consultant, Kiley & Associates, a check of the California Attorney General's charity database was in order, and was equally fruitless -
- OK. The fact that Pearce is based in AZ and his consultant is based in CA doesn't mean that they formed the foundation in one of those states. Time to check national clearinghouses for information on charitable organizations.
- CharityNavigator.org? Nada.
- National Center for Charitable Statistics? Zilch.
- Guidestar? Bupkes.
Those organizations get most, if not all, of their info from the IRS, so maybe the IRS has something they don't.
- From a search of the IRS' database of exempt organizations -
Hmmm. Still no info, not even a hint that the foundation exists as more than a phrase in a press release.
Did a Google search of the phrase "Pearce Johnson". The only foundation-related results were the foundation's website or various right-wing blogs pushing the press release last year. Nothing about good works that they've done, or even instances of teaming up with some of the more well-established (aka - "legitimate") international clean water charities.
This listing of charities working to bring clean water to various third-world countries, including Haiti, doesn't have a mention of "Pearce Johnson".
- Pearce himself doesn't have anything to say about it either. From his Arizona Public Officer financial disclosure form, filed in January 2012, covering all of 2011 -
Given that Pearce had to "amend" some of his past financial disclosure reports due to his involvement in the Fiesta Bowl scandal, I'm guessing that even he would be hesitant give false information on a report.
What this all adds up to, I can't say for sure.
Perhaps Pearce's foundation exists and is legit (even if it is so low-profile that the IRS doesn't know about it). However, if it does, Pearce could have more trouble with false reporting on his disclosure forms.
Perhaps Pearce's foundation is a scam (and apparently was one from Day One), in which case he is fine with the AZSOS (he reported nothing because there was nothing to report) but may have to face some questions from the IRS (and maybe the USDOJ, depending on the amount of money contributed to his foundation and what he did with the money).
Perhaps it's something else, including the possibility that I simply missed something (but that financial disclosure report suggests that there is nothing to find).
Any way you cut it, though, he may want to make sure he has a decent defense attorney on his speed dial.
In all searches, variations in the spelling of the name of the foundation were also used; those searches were also unsuccessful. In addition, just for the sake of thoroughness, general searches for corporations and partnerships in CA and AZ were also performed in the event that the foundation was formed that way. Neither state has info on such a corporation/partnership.
Also, the consulting firm that Pearce and Johnson said that they used to form the foundation doesn't have a website that I could find. As such, I was unable to use information gleaned from that particular source.