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From Fred Cooke to Peter Nickles

From Fred Cooke to Peter Nickles

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Published by Mike Madden

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Published by: Mike Madden on Oct 29, 2010
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10/29/2010

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RUBIN, WINSTON, DIERCKS, HARRIS & COOKE, LLP
 
A REGISTERED LIMITED LIABILITY PARTNERSHIP INCLUDING PROFESSIONAL
 
CORPORATIONS
 
ATTORNEYS AT LAWSUITE 2001201 CONNECTICUT AVENUE, NWWASHINGTON, D.C. 20036202 861-0870FAX: 202 429-0657
October 28, 2010
VIA EMAIL AND REGULAR MAIL
Peter Nickles, Esq.Attorney General of the District of ColumbiaOffice of the Attorney General1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NWSuite 409Washington, D.C. 20001Re: Team Thomas SubpoenaDear Mr. Nickles:As you know, I represent Team Thomas, and Councilman Harry Thomas with respect tothe matters raised in the letter issued on October 21, 2010, and with respect to the subpoenaissued by your office to Team Thomas on October 26, 2010.At this point, I have advised my clients not to respond to the subpoena of October 26,2010. My advice to my client is premised on the following:Both the letter and the subpoena cite as the authority for your demand for testimony anddocuments D.C Code section 44-
1701, et seq., i.e. the District’s charitable solicitations law. I believe that the District’s charitable solicitations law is inapplicable as authority for your agency
to demand testimony and documents from Team Thomas, and your agency is, therefore, withoutauthority to make such a demand by letter, or subpoena.
The District’s charitable solicitations law applies to
persons, or organizations soliciting(directly or indirectly), or receiving contributions that may be used for a charitable purpose.Team Thomas has not solicited (directly or indirectly), or received contributions that were usedfor a charitable purpose.Team Thomas is a District of Columbia not for profit corporation that is not organized asa charity. Team Thomas is not registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a tax exemptcharitable organization. Team Thomas operates programs for District youth. Team Thomas hasnot held itself out to be either a charity, or a tax exempt charitable organization. There are nofacts reported in the media, or otherwise that Team Thomas has either held itself out to be acharity or a tax exempt charitable organization, or has issued any sort of document that it was
 
RUBIN, WINSTON, DIERCKS, HARRIS & COOKE, LLP
P. Nickles, Esq.October 28, 2010Page 2such an organization. There are no facts that would tend to support any finding that TeamThomas has made any plea (directly or indirectly) for a contribution on any representation thatsuch contribution would be used for any charitable purpose. The facts of this matter simply donot provide a basis for the exercise of jurisdiction by your office under the provisions of D.C.Code section 44-1701, et seq.Your October 21, 2010 letter suggests that the basis of your inquiry to Team Thomas is
“media reports” that Team Thomas has solicited donations without having complied with theDistrict’s regulations regarding charitable solicitations. Media reports alone ar 
e a pretty flimsybasis for a government official to initiate an investigation. The same media have reported thattwo (2) organizations donated funds to Team Thomas during 2008. The records of DCRA(which are certainly available to your office) show that Team Thomas was validly existing in2008.Neither Team Thomas, nor any other non for profit corporation in the District is obligatedto make financial records public. The media reports do not allege that Team Thomas, orCouncilmember Thomas has misused any of the funds that may have been donated to TeamThomas. Why is Team Thomas being singled out for scrutiny? There does not appear to be anyfactual basis for your agency making any inquiry into the affairs of Team Thomas. How is theoperation of Team Thomas materially different from the operation of any other not for profitorganization in the District? Are similar inquiries being made of those organizations?Despite the bullying, and ethically questionable tactics that you have employed,Councilmember Thomas and Team Thomas are absolutely amenable to sharing the informationdemanded in your subpoena with your office and the public. Late in the afternoon on October 26,
2010, I had a verbal understanding with Mr. Rushkoff of your office that “at least” half of theinformation requested in your office’s letter of October 21, 2010 would be provided no later than
the morning of October 27, 2010. Without any further notice, request, or demand from youroffice, I was emailed a copy of a subpoena from your office (at about 5:40PM) demanding thevery same information.If the information had not arrived on the morning of October 27
th
, the issuance of thesubpoena would make some sense. What possible difference could waiting until the nextmorning make to see if the information was actually provided? The answer, it seems to me, isthat there is another agenda that supersedes actually receiving and analyzing the requestedresponses (Curiously, the regulations that implement the charitable solicitations law state that theDirector of DCRA shall administer the provisions of that law rather than OAG).

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