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Tuberville’s charity for veterans spent little on vets, tax records show

The Tommy Tuberville Foundation, over five years, raised $289,599 but spent just $51,658 on charitable causes.

Tommy Tuberville’s veterans support nonprofit raised more than $250,000 over five years, but spent just 18 percent on charitable causes, according to the nonprofit’s tax records.

Tuberville, the Republican candidate running against incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, started his nonprofit, the Tommy Tuberville Foundation, in 2014, and over the next four years the nonprofit raised $289,599 but spent just $51,658 on charitable causes, those records show. 

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In 2017, Tuberville’s foundation spent nothing on charitable causes, but spent $18,066 on meals, entertainment, gold tournament expenses, administrative expenses, advertising, auto insurance and photography, according to tax records.

That year the foundation’s 990 tax form also shows $27,369 spent on a truck. 

The foundation in 2018 spent $17,231 on meals, entertainment, auto, tax expenses, advertising, bank charges and travel and just $7,830 on charitable causes, which was 31 percent of all expenditures that year. 

Nearly all the money raised from 2014 to 2018, or 86 percent, came from Tuberville’s golf charities, with 12 percent being raised through Tuberville’s speaking fees. 

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The majority of expenditures Tuberville’s nonprofit has made were for administrative, overhead and operating expenses, which accounted for about 71 percent of total expenditures, or $207,000. During those years the foundation spent $100,039 on professional fees and independent contractors, which was almost twice as much as was spent on charitable causes. 

Fred Wellman, senior advisor for veterans affairs for The Lincoln Project, a political action committee formed in 2019 to prevent President Donald Trump’s re-election, in a series of tweets on Oct. 19 detailed problems he saw in the tax records of Tuberville’s foundation. 

“The accounting and paperwork is an absolute mess. Different forms every year, different addresses, wildly missed reporting numbers, totals that don’t add up and bizarre financial choices. At a minimum the foundation has been incredibly poorly and unprofessionally managed. At worst it’s a sham,” Wellman tweeted. 

Wellman in another tweet notes that in 2015 the Tuberville’s foundation spent $8,763 on materials to renovate veterans’ homes, yet spent $6,390 for promotional materials. 

“Yes 42% of the $15,153 expense went to promoting … the effort itself. Strange choice,” Wellman said. 

Gary Maloney, a spokesman for the Tuberville campaign, told APR on Monday that the truck, which was bought in 2017 and used to transport materials and Tuberville to foundation events, was sold in 2019 for $15,000 at a loss of $12,369. That loss was paid back to the foundation by Tuberville with interest, he said.

“It will be reflected in the 2019 report,” Maloney said.

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“Speaking fees have been a primary source of funding for the foundation since 2015,” Maloney said. “Now, sometimes the speaking fees were channeled through the golf tournaments. By that I mean, he would say, ‘Well, just give it to the golf tournament.’”

When a reporter noted that those speaking fees being donated to the foundation through golf tournaments aren’t reflected in the tax records, Maloney said the money is lumped into the total revenue made through the tournaments and said “I’m giving you the truth of the situation.”

“Coach Tuberville didn’t have to donate the speaking fees that he received. He decided to create a foundation, with the speaking fees, to raise money to help veterans in need,” Maloney said.

Maloney said that “internal documents” show that all of the money that was raised in 2018 for Warriors Rest by the foundation was also not reflected in the tax records “and that was a choice made by the accountant.”

Maloney said he didn’t have internal documents for the foundation’s activities in 2015 and 2016. Asked why that was, Maloney said he’s not been able to access them. “I have been trying to get them from Ohio, but they did not make the trip from Ohio to Alabama,” Maloney said, referring to Tuberville’s moves.

Maloney emailed APR a document he said came from “our bookkeeper,” which included data from accounting software that reflects $18,639 in foundation payments in 2018 to Jonathan Duncan, founder of Warrior’s Rest, one of the foundation’s main recipients. Maloney also sent another internal document that he said shows the foundation spent more than half of total revenue in 2018 on charitable programs that year.

“The 990s do not always reflect the benefits of a foundation’s work. In its first two years [Tuberville] and the foundation officers solicited, secured and provided donations of concrete rebar, other materials, and most importantly labor, to provide disabled veterans with accommodations, such as ramps, chair lifts, etc. in their homes,” Maloney said “Much of these are not reflected in the 990s because they do not represent dollars directly raised or spent by the foundation.”

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When a reporter noted that other nonprofits often list volunteer labor as in-kind contributions in tax records, Maloney said, “I wish they would have. I really, really wish they would have,” referring to the foundation’s record-keeping.

The flyer for the foundation’s golf charity this year states that the foundation helps veterans readjust to civilian life after deployment. 

“For over a decade, the foundation had raised and donated funds to organizations who support and honor our U.S. Armed Forces veterans,” the flyer reads.

It’s unclear why the flyer states the foundation, which was formed in 2014, has been raising and donating funds “for over a decade.” 

Tuberville was also involved in a fraudulent hedge fund that bilked more than $2 million from several Alabamians who invested in the venture.

Tuberville’s partner in the Auburn hedge fund was sentenced to a decade in prison over what has been described in court records as a “Ponzi scheme,” yet Tuberville was never charged — state and federal investigators said that he was also a victim of the fraud — and a civil lawsuit against the former football coach was dismissed after an undisclosed and confidential settlement agreement. 

Jones, speaking to a group of supporters in Anniston on Friday, brought up the matter of Tuberville’s foundation. 

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“I don’t just create charities and send only pennies on the dollar. I do things for the veterans of this state and this country,” Jones said.

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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