This is the short version of the story.
For the long version of the story… click here!
In February of 2016 I organized a town hall event with Bernie Sanders in Flint. The intention was to provide information to parents in Flint about the long-term impacts of lead poisoning on their children. [I did also mention that the lead industry created this problem and should be held accountable – click image to the left to watch that video.]
In March of 2016 I learned that someone had made an “anonymous complaint” to the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) — falsely alleging financial impropriety with the nonprofit I founded, Lead Safe America Foundation (LSAF). On the advice of multiple friends, I hired a law firm – “just in case”. In August, I learned, via a letter from LSAF’s attorneys (who I had hired), that I was “fired” as Executive Director.
When I wrote the Board with my shock and outrage, I learned that that there had not been any vote of the Board on this matter — and that at least 50% of the Board Members did not even know I had been fired!
The DOJ later shared their preliminary speculative analysis of LSAF’s finances with the IRS. The IRS wrote me a letter (May 2017) that said I could be fined nearly $800,000 (see breakdown on long-version of the story!), in the event that I was found to have engaged in alleged “excess benefit transactions”! [I was not guilty of this — nor any other financial impropriety, mind you!]
I had not (and still have not) been formally charged with any sort of crime (this was called an “administrative inquiry“), but I was advised that I needed several lawyers — and a forensic accounting team — now, somehow, to establish my innocence against these allegations, because we live in a “guilty until proven innocent” society!
Last Tuesday, on September 12, 2017, after months of communications with the IRS, upon reviewing the actual evidence — the complete record of all financial transactions over the entire five years of operations — the IRS dropped all concern for excess benefit transactions — and made no adjustments to my taxes (see letter from my tax lawyer here) I am now awaiting a tax refund as I write this.
Proving my innocence in this matter has cost me about $50,000 so far — and has smeared my reputation, threatened my advocacy work and severely impacted my family – not to mention the unmeasurable amount of personal stress and trauma. I have lost nearly everything as a result of the financial impact – and we’re now on the verge of losing our home.
Plus, there is still quite a bit of lawyering left to do…
I still need to present the IRS findings and supporting documentation to the DOJ, so they will hopefully also drop their case, and I still need to present this information to the lawyers for LSAF, so they will formally acknowledge my rights to finish and distribute my film [the goal has always been to finish and distribute the film — to get the true facts about lead poisoning in the U.S. out to help families, and this “anonymous complaint” has done an excellent job of thwarting that goal.]
Top experts and advocates I have spoken to along this journey have all agreed that this whole situation (and the way it unfolded, especially the timing in conjunction with the lead-industry appeal of the California legal case), seems like a lead-industry hit to shut down my advocacy work.
Throughout this time I have continued to volunteer to help families one-on-one, every single day, as I always have, usually between 5 and 25 families each and every day. The outpouring of support has been wonderful (please read the comments on my GoFundMe to start!) however I have not yet raised enough to wrap up this situation and get to the other side.
I implore you to read the long version of the story (with the timeline) here… as it is much more thorough, intriguing, upsetting, etc. and if you can help me cover the costs of my legal team to get me to the end of the ordeal there are several ways you can help listed there (and here.) I need your help or my film (currently in post-production “forced limbo”) may not ever see the light of day, and that would be a tragedy. Thank you.
“Unexpected Lead Expert”
Mother of Lead Poisoned Children