Written By: Cassandra L. ’Sandy’ Frost
It’s been two years since my first investigative article “Is IRVA really a nonprofit group?” was published online at Suite101.com.
Since then, I’ve written six articles that can be found at: http://blogs.salon.com/0003531/.
To recap, in early March 2003, I asked for the group’s financial data and board minutes after they appeared to be in financial trouble by asking for donations in their newsletter, “The Aperture.” I wondered why this group, who’d had their professional psychic spying projects funded since the early 70’s by groups like the CIA up through 1996, was having trouble raising money.
My March, 2003 requests for otherwise public information were denied.
The IRS nonprofit laws state that within 30 days of a request, the group must disclose their financial and originating documentation. I sent this information along with three more requests for the legally mandated information and was told on March 12, 2003 by Bill Eigles, IRVA secretary:
“I consider this matter closed, and, at the direction of both the President and Vice President of IRVA, must respectfully ask you to desist from any further communication in this regard.”
I then began digging for nonprofit group information after noting IRVA claimed, and according to their newsletter, is still claiming to be a 501c3 nonprofit group.
The 501c3 nonprofit designation is granted only by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Over the next few weeks, I found out that there was no group such as IRVA registered with the IRS, rather that IRVA was a fictitious business name for an older nonprofit 501c3 group, Bay Research Institute (BRI), established by Russell Targ in 1983.
In March, 2003, when I began asking questions, it appeared that BRI dba IRVA was not compliant with the nonprofit laws of Connecticut, where they have an administrative office. Nor did they seem to be compliant with the nonprofit reporting laws of California,
where BRI was formed, nor compliant with the nonprofit reporting and disclosure laws of the IRS.
March 13, 2003, my first article was published online. The same day or thereabouts, Paul Smith, IRVA VP released some of my personal membership information on line. Shortly thereafter, someone was posing as a nonprofit attorney ‘befriended’ me to help understand the finer points of fictitious business names. I suspect he passed my emails on to, well, those people who dispatched him. This same “attorney” was allegedly involved in muddying the activities of two other viewers.
In October, 2003 I became the journalistic target of a racist hate site that, among other things, mocks my Native American heritage. In February, 2004, my site at Suite101.com “Intuition, Remote Viewing and Consciousness” was taken offline after one of my editors said they received an email containing the words “IRVA” and “libel.”
So what’s the current status?
Lost money for third year in a row
The group’s 2002 nonprofit tax returns, Form 990, are available online through the State of California’s Office of Charitable Trust. The 2001, 2002 and 2003 returns show, among other things, that the group has officially lost money for the third consecutive year in a row.
In 2001, they lost $3900.
In 2002, they lost $3040.
In 2003, they lost $4517.
In 2001, IRVA told the State of California they took in $46,600. But they told the IRS they took in $54,000, a difference of about $8,000.
In 2002, the figures matched up.
In 2003, IRVA told the State of California they took in $36,500. But they told the IRS they took in nearly $32,000, a difference of about $4,500.
Included in the online amended 2002 returns is a document that was not included in the documents available through the State of California’s Office of Charitable Trust or a packet of documents I received from IRS last month, February, 2005. This is a copy of “new” amended unsigned bylaws, dated April 21, 1999.
These new bylaws were not provided to me by IRVA nor were posted at www.irva.org per IRS nonprofit disclosure law after my initial request for documentation two years ago.
Bylaws are important. As stated at:
Non-profit organizations can live and die by their bylaws. It is important to ensure that these bylaws reflect the organization and keep it out of legal troubles.
Bylaws govern all non-profit organizations. The bylaws direct their meetings, the topics of their meetings, and how to conduct their board meetings. Bylaws set the foundation for the policies and procedures of the organization. Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary says: "Bylaws are the rules adopted by an organization chiefly for the government of its members and the regulation of its affairs."
Included in the online 2002 990EZ tax return is a certification by then President Skip Atwater stating:
“I, F. Holmes Atwater, hereby certify that the attached Amended Bylaws, dated April 21, 1999, of Bay Research Institute dba The International Viewing Association, constitutes a true, complete, and accurate copy of the original document comprising the same.”
The first problem is that these new bylaws should have been filed with the group’s 2001 tax returns. Question #34 on the filed return reads “Were any changes made to the organizing or governing documents but not reported to the IRS?”
This question should have been marked “yes” instead of “no.”
Board and Officer Vacancies?
These amended bylaws spell out things like Director Terms and Consecutive Terms.
From the bylaws:
3. Director Terms – Founding Directors serve a minimum of two calendar years. Succeeding directors serve a minimum one calendar year term.
4. Consecutive Terms – No director shall serve the board for more than three consecutive terms.
Current founding Directors include Stephan Schwartz, Paul Smith, Lyn Buchanan, Russell Targ and John Alexander.
If they became board members upon IRVA’s founding on March 18, 1999 or their terms were effective April 21, 1999 and they have served three consecutive two year terms that is six years. 1999 + 6 = 2005. According to the bylaws, these five are either serving in violation of their own bylaws or on April 19, 2005, can no longer be board members.
From the bylaws about officers:
Required Officers President, Secretary, and Treasurer.
Special Officer Requirements Officer selection choices are made by the directors who then hold officers accountable for achievement goals of the Mission Statement…The length of an officer’s term is specified as one year, but may not be more than four consecutive years.
William Eigles, IRVA secretary, signed the 2001 Registration and Renewal Fee Report for the State of California. 2001 + 4 = 2005. According to the bylaws, his four one year terms are up this year.
Sandy Ray, IRVA treasurer, signed the 2001 IRS 990-EZ and she is listed on a paper that is supposed to meet a Schedule A requirement. According to the bylaws, her four one year terms are up this year.
So, if these people are no longer able to serve, according to their bylaws, the seven member board will only have one member.
No Members Allowed
When I requested documents two years ago, one of the things that should have been posted online was BRI’s complete IRS 1023 application for 501c3nonprofit exemption.
At www.irva.org, only two of eight pages are posted.
On page four of the original application, which has provided, through a fictitious business name, IRVA’s nonprofit status since it was formed in 1999, question 10 reads:
Is the organization a membership organization?
This is marked “no.”
Would an IRS exempt office auditor determine that those who have paid membership dues are entitled to a refund?
According to www.irva.org, the group pulled away from Russell Targ’s original nonprofit group, Bay Research Institute, in January 2004, to register in the State of Nevada as a nonprofit group.
Indeed, IRVA has done this and these documents can read online by typing “International Remote Viewing Association” at:
It appears that paper work has been updated to reflect the 2004 resignations of Skip Atwater and Dr. Angela Thompson Smith.
Nevada law states that one of the requirements to be a nonprofit group in their state is to have 501c3 status.
Nevada Revised Statues state:
NRS 82.021 “Corporation for public benefit” defined. “Corporation for public benefit” is a corporation formed or existing pursuant to this chapter that:
1. Is recognized as exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code in effect on October 1, 1991, future amendments to that section and the corresponding provisions of future internal revenue laws; or
2. Is organized for a public or charitable purpose and which upon dissolution must distribute its assets to the United States, a state, or a person which is recognized as exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code as amended. (Added to NRS by 1991, 1256; A 1993, 990)
According to a March 15, 2005 telephone call to the IRS Exempt Office and an online search of records, there is no such group as “The International Remote Viewing Association” listed.
Is IRVA falsely claiming 501c3 status?
A March 15, 2005 call to IRVA’s Connecticut administrative office confirmed that the group is still claiming to have 501c3 status in the masthead of their newsletter, “The Aperture.”
In January of 2004 IRVA choose to relinquish its’ former status as a DBA of Bay Research Institute and returned control of BRI to Russell Targ. IRVA is now registered (International Remote Viewing Association) with the State of Nevada as an independent non-profit organization.
There is a section “Corporate, historical and nonprofit documents” at www.irva.org that divides these documents into two sections: “Prior to 2004” and “2004.”
The “Prior to 2004” section contains part of the nonprofit documentation that shows how Russell Targ filed the 501c3 paperwork with the IRS in 1983 and got nonprofit status for his California-based group, the Bay Research Institute (BRI). Included is a “Fictitious Business Statement” that was filed on May 11, 1999 so BRI could do business as The International Remote Viewing Association.
Note: The Bylaws are dated April 21, 1999 and state the Corporation is BRI dba IRVA however, the Fictitous Business Name or dba Statement was not filed until May 11, 1999.
If IRVA broke away from Targ’s original 501c3 nonprofit group, Bay Research Institute, in January 2004, then why include any of BRI’s old nonprofit documents in the “2004” post-break section? In other words, the “2004” online documents should not include any of BRI’s original nonprofit documents because after the break, they do not pertain to IRVA as they are now two different, separate groups.
However, BRI’s documents are listed in the “2004” section, giving the false appearance that IRVA currently has 501c3 status when, in fact, IRVA is still not listed with the IRS as either having an application pending or having been granted nonprofit status.
What does need to be posted in the “2004” section is a full and current application; Form 1023, Letter of Determination, and all other associated information dated prior to January 9, 2004 saying that The International Remote Viewing Association has been granted 501c3 status. The January date is important because that is when IRVA registered as a nonprofit group with the State of Nevada.
Also, the tax returns for 2001 and 2003 should be online, as well as the latest amended copy of the 2002 returns including the new bylaws.
It appears that IRVA is still losing money.
It appears that IRVA has trouble answering questions on their tax returns correctly.
It appears that five board members and two officers are currently or will be ineligible to serve after April 21, 2005, per their own bylaws.
It appears that IRVA was never supposed to be a membership group.
It appears that IRVA is giving the impression that they have 501c3 status, when, according to the IRS, they do not.
So, it appears that the answer to the two year old question, “Is IRVA really a nonprofit group?” still seems to be “No.”