Congresswomen ask IRS to look at Golden Globes group’s tax exempt status
More than a year after a Los Angeles Times investigation into the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., a pair of congresswomen have sent a letter to the Internal Revenue Service, asking for an investigation into the organization’s tax-exempt status.
“For more than a year, entertainment and national media outlets have detailed the seemingly corrupt and unacceptable deal making patterns of HFPA,” wrote Rep. Joyce Beatty (D–Ohio), who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Brenda L. Lawrence (D–Mich.), vice chair of the House Committee on Appropriations, in a letter Monday.
“We believe at minimum, HFPA’s current leadership has colluded to benefit themselves, either directly or indirectly and therefore violated the IRS statute,” they wrote.
Further, they noted the organization’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.”
The Times investigation raised questions about the group behind the Golden Globes’ financial and ethical conduct and revealed that none of the association’s then 87-members was Black.
The report found that the nonprofit HFPA regularly issues substantial payments to its own members in ways that some experts say could run afoul of Internal Revenue Service guidelines. HFPA members collected nearly $2 million in payments from the group in its fiscal year ending in June 2020 for serving on various committees and performing other tasks — more than double the level three years earlier.
The HFPA has previously said its employment-related expenses are modest relative to the group’s size and in line with practices of other nonprofit organizations.
Last year, NBC pulled the plug on the 2022 Golden Globes broadcast. The network’s decision followed a boycott of the HFPA by a contingent of powerful publicists and Netflix, Amazon and Amazon Studios’ announcing they were cutting ties with the association.
Reps. Beatty and Lawrence said that they had only recently become aware of a host of issues surrounding the association.
In the last year, the HFPA has deployed an array of reforms including new bylaws and policies regarding members’ travel and gifts; it has also admitted 21 new members, including six who are Black, and hired a chief diversity officer.
In a statement to The Times, the HFPA said it was “extremely disappointed to have read about the concerns from Representatives Beatty and Lawrence in the media,” saying they had not reached out to the group to discuss the matter. “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 [of] new ethics and conduct rules. We look forward to the opportunity to sharing our progress with the Representatives and their staff soon.”
The Wrap was the first to report on the letter, which also cited a February report by the trade publication that highlighted alleged self-dealing and conflicts of interest by HFPA representatives.
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