Blockbuster story from the Daily Tar Heel today: The Friends of Bolin Creek, a registered nonprofit under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, likely held a partisan campaign event and broke federal law.

One of the benefits given to 501(c)(3) nonprofits is that their donors can typically deduct the amount of their donation off their income taxes. But in return, the 501(c)3) nonprofit cannot engage in partisan political activity. Hosting an event for a selected group of political candidates clearly crosses that line.

We urge you to read the story at the Daily Tar Heel. But the gist of it is that the initial email making the event reservation with the Parks and Rec Dept. stated it was on behalf of Friends of Bolin Creek. The invitations for the event listed the email address “[email protected]” which is connected to the Friends of Bolin Creek’s domain.

Charles Humble, who sent the emails arranging the reservation of the space, paid for the fee. Humble is the assistant treasurer of the Chapel Hill Leadership PAC and is also listed as the “controlling entity” for David Adams’ campaign for town council. He is not mentioned on the Friends of Bolin Creek website.

Julie McClintock, founder of Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town (CHALT) and Friends of Bolin Creek and many other organizations, claims it was an “oversight” and that CHALT (or its Political Action Committee, the Chapel Hill Leadership PAC) always intended to host and pay for the event. That’s her explanation, and we expect they’ll stick with it.

The Daily Tar Heel reports the “event flyer was removed from the Friends of Bolin Creek website on Monday after The DTH spoke with McClintock.” However, CHALT still lists the event on their Facebook site, and still lists Friends of Bolin Creek’s email address as the contact. (We expect this to be deleted soon.)

To get this photo on our website, we had to shrink it from its original size. Just putting that here so that no one claims we’re trying to hide an edit. We’ve go the original stored on our computers if anyone would like to check.

It’s just another example of the tangled web of organizations that are affiliated with the same few people. Only one of them is an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) charity, and it appears McClintock and friends forgot that they can’t do partisan political activity with the Friends of Bolin Creek. Oops.

Again, we urge you to read the story at the Daily Tar Heel. It is very clear and well written, and clearly took a lot of investigative work to put together.

In the last municipal election cycle, we helped increase turnout by over 20 percent. We're all volunteers who care deeply about Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and we're working to make Chapel Hill and Carrboro more vibrant, accessible, fun, and sustainable.  Please consider a small donation to help us keep our digital lights on, host events, and hire students to do data deep-dives.

Geoff Green, AICP lives in Chapel Hill. In his day job he's a practicing urban planner; in his spare time he rides his electric bike around town and advocates for improved facilities so that everyone can...