I always loved this bit from South Park:
Oh, that Cartman. Spoofing people who “are just asking questions”. Funny funny stuff.
Apropos absolutely nothing; about two months ago, three months ago a group of 20-odd Somalis were busted for running a prostitution ring in Minneapolis. The ring allegedly forced young Somali girls into prostitution.
Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent lives in Minneapolis.
This raises questions: Was Andy Birkey complicit in the prostitution ring?
No, I’m not being inflammatory. I’m just asking questions.
Oh, yeah – Birkey has written his 24th article about Bradlee Dean in the past 53 weeks.
You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International, Inc. (YCR), the Annandale-based hard rock ministry run by Bradlee Dean and Jake McMillian, set up trusts with help from a ministry in Oregon which has been a target of the IRS investigations for setting up tax avoidance schemes all over the country, Karl Bremer at Ripple in Stillwater reports.
While writing “How do you know Karl Bremer is full of crap? His fingers are moving over the keyboard?” would be an ad-hominem, his history of being a ranting crank raises questions.
But I digress. Here’s a serious question: huh?
What sort of trust did YCR set up? Was it legal? Were YCR’s business dealings among those being investigated by the IRS?
Indeed, what is the IRS investigating? And did YCR’s association with the “ministry in Oregon” happen to coincide in any way with anything that the IRS investigated?
I’m just asking questions (and adding emphasis to Birkey’s quotes).
Dean and YCR dismantled the work done by Glen Stoll and the Embassy of Heaven for their ministry and even took their case against Stoll to district court in 2008, but the arrangement raises questions about whether Dean and his ministry were trying to avoid paying their rightful share of taxes.
Birkey’s “just asking questions”.
We’ll come back to that.
Documents filed in Minnesota’s 10th District Court outline the arrangement set up by YCR with the help of Stoll. Bradlee Dean, whose real name is Bradley Dean Smith, and Jake McMillian, whose real name is Jake MacAuley, took classes from Stoll and paid him $6,500 to set up “established, exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable and assignable ministerial trusts” that would allow them to operate as a “‘free church’ that would be invulnerable to state regulation and control.”
As part of the deal, Smith was given an identification card from Stoll’s Embassy of Heaven that affirmed that, “On file is a signed statement by Bradley Smith renouncing allegiance to the world and declaring citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
So let me ask some questions – remember, I’m just asking questions, because questions were raised:
- Was this “trust” illegal?
- In fact, did tax laws in the early part of the 2000s make these sort of trusts a common and attractive means for religious ministries to handle their taxes and finances?
- Did IRS laws change in the past five years, making various forms of non-profit status more useful?
- Did YCR actually “evade” taxes?
- If it could be showed I deducted my mortgage interest or inreimbursed medical expenses, would I be “evading taxes” according to Andy Birkey?
- I know Andy Birkey and Karl Bremer are just “raising questions” – but do they have any actual evidence that YCR and Bradlee Dean didn’t actually pay taxes they were supposed to?
- Any evidence at all? Or are they just “raising questions”?
Remember – I’ m just asking questions. Because questions were raised. So I’m asking them.
Stoll also told his clients not to pay income taxes or employment taxes and to not file tax returns. And the ministry seemed to take that advice. According to the group’s 990 forms, it stopped reporting its activities to the IRS in 2003, the same year Smith signed his citizenship card with the Embassy of Heaven. It would resume filing its tax returns in 2008.
And was this illegal under the applicable laws at the time? Is YCR under investigation of any kind, by anyone (other than Karl Bremer)?
Again – I’m just asking questions.
By 2005, Stoll and his clients were under investigation for tax fraud by the Department of Justice. As Bremer notes, Stoll has already been fined $50,000, is in violation of an injunction, and his arrest has been sought.
“People who buy into tax-fraud schemes are buying nothing but trouble — past due tax bills with interest and penalties and the possibility of criminal prosecution,” said Eileen J. O’Connor, Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division. “The Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service are committed to stopping the promotion of tax fraud.”
Well, that’s interesting.
Is Ms. O’Connor commenting about YCR?
Why, no – indeed, it seems Karl Bremer has clipped a quote from several other stories that used the same quote. Now, I’m just asking questions here – but isn’t the quote framed in such a way as to make it look like Ms. O’Conner “said” the quote to Birkey? As opposed to Birkey and Bremer clipping it, with context grossly obscured, from several other stories? Hasn’t the Minnesota Independent gotten into trouble for this sort of thing before?
Just asking questions.
By 2008, Smith and MacAuley began to unravel the complicated tax-free trust that was being administered by Stoll. As Bremer reports:
According to court documents, Smith’s and MacAulay’s attorney advised them to sever all ties with Stoll, demand his resignation from their trusts and return all property from the trusts. Stoll refused, and on December 9, 2008, a summons and petition was attempted to be served on Stoll’s address, where a person there “refused to accept the documents” and “slammed the door.”
Wait – so after “asking questions” that, if framed as a statement, would have sounded a lot like an accusation (“tax evasion”), Birkey and Bremer’s story’s source is…records of a lawsuit that YCR’s principals filed against their allegedly fraudulent ex-advisor…
…er, he was an ex-advisor, right? Wait – Birkey’s story is so unclear, I have no idea what’s going on. When did YCR have its trust with Stoll? When did YCR break off the relationship? Why? What does it have to do with the quesitons about Birkey’s links to Somali prostitution?
On March 27, 2009, District Court Judge Stephen Halsey granted Old Paths Church, Inc. and YCR, Inc. their motion for a summary judgment against Stoll that terminated Stoll’s trusts, removed Stoll as trustee, transferred assets from the trusts back to the two original entities, and awarded attorneys fees plus the $6,500 they paid Stoll to create the sham ministerial trusts.
I’m getting a headache, now. Would someone provide the who, what, when, where, why and how of some of these allegations?
The Minnesota Independent examined some of Smith’s financial dealings in 2009 when new IRS 990 forms showed that he and his band mates were taking a ministerial housing allowance despite his organization being a religious non-profit as opposed to a church. Those housing allowances are meant only for “duly ordained” members of the clergy. Smith has refused to answer questions related to his ordination or which church his organization belongs to.
OK, I’m shaking off my headache; I have more questions. To ask.
- So since the court case against Stoll – whose relationship to Dean and YCR is the subject of Birkey’s entire article – happened before 2009, what does this have to do with any “tax evasion” scheme?
- Does Birkey know what “duly ordained” means? No, I don’t either. I’m just asking questions. Is the “due”-ness of Dean’s ordination a legal issue? If so, how? Under what part of the IRS code? Is anyone but Karl Bremer alleging that Dean is operating illegally?
- Is Dean legally obliged to answer questions about his employment to Andy Birkey?
- Given the geneology of the O’Connor quote, above, did Birkey even ask Dean? To whom did Dean “refuse” to answer? Details? Again, I’m just asking questions.
I’m just…well, you know.
In 2008, Smith and his sidekick MacAuley, greatly increased their compensation and housing allowance. According to the group’s most recent 990 filing, Smith was paid $51,303 salary and $45,887 for the housing allowance, raking in $97,190. MacAuley’s compensation was a bit less coming in at $66,897 in 2008.
I mean, I’ve met Brad and Jake. Brad’s got five kids, and he works like a sled dog.
Did he pay taxes?
Dean has not responded to repeated request for information about his ministry or a weekend request for comment on his association with Stoll.
And why would he?
(Just a question).
Dean and his ministry have close ties to the Republican Party and GOP officials and candidates including gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer,
If I had shown that that particular claim was a lie, would Andy Birkey stop making the claim…
…well, doy, I guess my answer’s right there!
Since I’m just asking questions, I talked with Bradlee Dean. We both noted that Birkey was “raising questions”.
“If the question was “did Bradlee Dean pay his taxes”, the answer is “yes”", he said.
Well, enough of that. All those questions give me a headache.
I just love South Park. Let’s watch that clip again!
He’s so funny.
UPDATE: Is Andy Birkey trying to concoct some grandiloquent link between the GOP on the one hand and a shadowy conspiracy of Christianist Tom-Petters-wannabees, to appease the appetites of his lords and masters at Media Matters (who pull the strings behind the Center for “Independent” Media, which controls every facet of the operations of its “independent” websites like the Mindy for dirt?
This article raises questions.
UPDATE 2: I should start a bet pool for how many articles about Brad Dean that Birkey writes this years. Last year was 23; I think the over/under in a non-election year will be more like 18.
Place your bets.
I’m just asking questions here.
UPDATE 3: I see that that bit above wasn’t actually a question.