Lawmakers Ask IRS to Investigate Golden Globe Group’s Taxes

Two congresswomen want the IRS to examine the tax-exempt status of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

A year after a Los Angeles Times expose revealed that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which governs the Golden Globe Awards, had no Black people among its 87 members, two leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus have asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the group’s tax exempt-status.

In a March 7 letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, CBC Chairwoman Joyce Beatty (D–Ohio) and Democratic Michigan Rep. Brenda L. Lawrence asked the agency to look into what they call “self-dealing and conflicts of interest” in the HFPA, the Wrap reports.

“For more than a year, entertainment and national media outlets have detailed the seemingly corrupt and unacceptable deal making patterns of HFPA raising questions whether the organization solely responsible for awarding the once coveted Golden Globe Award is meeting its IRS section 501(C)(3) demands,” the Congresswomen state in their letter.

“We believe at minimum, HFPA’s current leadership has colluded to benefit themselves, either directly or indirectly and therefore violated the IRS statute” against such tax-exempt organizations benefitting private interests.

Citing a February report in the Wrap, the legislators said they specifically want the IRS to investigate “…ongoing accounts of self-dealing and conflicts of interests by HFPA’s interim chief executive officer, Mr. Todd Boehly and President Ms. Helen Hoehne,” adding, “The article suggests such actions are more than hearsay, instead first-hand accounts by past and present members of HFPA. One former HFPA member simply described the organization as ‘…corrupt to the core.’”

Beatty and Lawrence also took note of the group’s “failure to embrace robust diversity and inclusion practices that we are now seeing being implemented in Hollywood and across all business and government sectors.”

To be fair, months after NBC dropped the Golden Globes award show, the HFPA announced in October that six of its 21 newly-admitted members were Black and, in November, the group brought in its first-ever Chief Diversity Officer, raising the HFPA’s total Black membership to at least seven people.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, HFPA is in the habit of issuing substantial payments to its members in ways that some experts believe do not necessarily adhere to IRS guidelines. HFPA members collected nearly $2 million in payments from the group in its fiscal year ending in June 2020 for things like serving on committees and other odd jobs—payments that the paper says are more than double the level from three years earlier.

Reached by Los Angeles on Tuesday, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association said in a statement that it is “extremely disappointed to have read about the concerns from Representatives Beatty and Lawrence in the media.”

The HFPA continued, “Though the Association still hasn’t received any letter or other forms of communication, it has reached out to their offices to discuss their concerns, provide answers to their questions and make them aware of the significant changes and reforms the Association has already undertaken. Unfortunately, it seems their letter is taken largely from previous news accounts that have misrepresented or omitted the significant and thorough progress made in bringing on diverse members at all levels and the imposition of strict new guidelines banning all gifts and implementation new ethics and conduct rules. We look forward to the opportunity to sharing our progress with the Representatives and their staff soon.”

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