Celebrations for Children Inc.

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Celebrations for Children Inc. (CfC) is "an incorporated entity which has applied for or been granted charitable status under section 501c3 of the Internal Revenue Code." [1]

"CfC is managed by Danielle DeLay Ferro, Rep. Tom DeLay's daughter, by Craig Richardson, a fundraiser for Rep. DeLay's campaign committee, and by Rob Jennings, a Republican political operative." [2]

According to the December 4, 2003, complaint filed against Celebrations for Children Inc. with the Internal Revenue Service by Common Cause, the organization is "a newly incorporated entity recently formed under the auspices, and by associates, of Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), the majority leader of the House of Representatives, who is closely associated with the organization. CfC is purportedly organized for the purpose of raising funds to make donations to other charitable groups that provide services on behalf of disadvantaged children." [3]

The complaint continues to say that "Published reports indicate, however, that CfC is instead being used as a vehicle to fund Rep. DeLay's political operations and to provide donor maintenance services for activities inextricably linked to the Republican National Convention to be held this summer in New York City. ... In 2000, Rep. DeLay used a soft money political committee, Americans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee, or ARMPAC, to fund similar activities at the Republican Convention held that year in Philadelphia." [4]

"This time," according to the complaint, "CfC is being used by Rep. DeLay as the vehicle to once again provide convention-related perks and amenities to donors and Members of Congress for the 2004 Republican Convention. CfC is providing elaborate convention-related benefits to its donors, and is offering "package" deals, with the benefits scaled to the size of the contributions, just as ARMPAC did for the 2000 convention. A fundraising brochure issued by CfC details the packages. The brochure is entitled 'Donor Packages for the 2004 Republican National Convention,' leaving no question about the tie between CfC and its convention-related activities. Indeed, the brochure states that CfC's 'Marquee event for 2004' will be 'events at the Republican National Convention in New York City.' The 'net' proceeds, according to the brochure, 'will be disbursed to charities dedicated to abused and neglected children,' but press reports have stated that the donations made to CfC will be used to defray the costs of the convention-related events: '[A]ides to Mr. DeLay, the House majority leader from Texas, acknowledged that part of the money [donated to CfC] would go to pay for late-night convention parties, a luxury suite during President Bush's speech at Madison Square Garden and yacht cruises.' The 'donor packages' range from a contribution of $10,000 (the so-called 'Greenwich Village' package) to $500,000 (the 'Upper East Side'). The benefits include a 'luxury suite for Members, Senators, Executive Branch and CfC Sponsors' to watch President Bush's speech to the convention, 'private dinners' with Rep. DeLay, a 'Members reception' during the President's speech, tickets to a golf tournament, tickets to Broadway shows and 'a private yacht cruise with TD [Tom DeLay].'" [5]

Common Cause's position is that "it is clear that [CfC]]'s application for charitable status under section 501(c)(3) should be denied, or if already granted, revoked." [6]

Work Product?

November 15, 2003: "Mr. DeLay's charity, Celebrations for Children Inc., was set up in September and has no track record of work. Mr. DeLay is not a formal official of the charity, but its managers are Mr. DeLay's daughter, Dani DeLay Ferro; Craig Richardson, a longtime adviser; and Rob Jennings, a Republican fund-raiser. Mr. Richardson said the managers would be paid by the new charity. [7]

"Mr. Richardson said the goal was to give 75 percent of the money it raised to children's charities, including some in the New York area. He said the charity also planned to hold other events at the Super Bowl. [8]

"But because the money collected will go into a nonprofit organization, donors get a tax break. And Mr. DeLay will never have to account publicly for who contributed, which campaign finance experts say shields those who may be trying to win favor with one of the most powerful lawmakers in Washington." [9]

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