Wednesday, May 12, 2021

"Boom!" goes "The Democracy Fund."

Regular voyeurs of this little patch of bloggy real estate will know that, recently, I've been asking questions of the odd, puzzling -- one might even say sketchy -- claims from Rebel News that donations to their "Fight the Fines" campaign are eligible for CRA-approved charitable tax receipts by directing said donations to an entirely unaffiliated registered charity, "The Democracy Fund."

I say all of this is odd and puzzling since Canada Revenue Agency, in the midst of its explanation of how registered charities work, is absolutely clear that you are not allowed to play games with your charitable status, and that includes loaning out that status or letting others ride your coattails for the sake of issuing tax receipts they have no right to issue:

The warning here is clear and should be understandable by even someone as intellectually crippled as Sheila Gunn Reid -- no, you are not allowed to raise funds and have someone else issue tax receipts on your behalf. Like, what part of "no, don't do that" confuses any of you?

In any event, Rebel News' Ezra Levant has been making exactly this kind of assurance, and if you're wondering how that can be legal, here's how one might interpret it ... and here's how that tortured interpretation finally appears to explode in flames.

The above bizarre charity-related circle jerk could conceivably be legal as long as "The Democracy Fund" was, in fact, the entity doing all the collecting of donations. At the risk of over-simplifying, if The Democracy Fund is going to hand out tax receipts, they're the ones who need to accept the donations. Quite simply, you cannot issue tax receipts for anything other than money that came into you directly; that's black-and-white CRA law, and Ezra appears to know this full well since, while promising charitable tax receipts, Ezra assures one that you are, in fact, donating to The Democracy Fund as required by law:

This is important since it establishes that Ezra is well aware of the law and that tax receipts from The Democracy Fund absolutely require donations to The Democracy Fund. Keep that in mind for what happens next as, when I awoke this morning, I had in my inbox a note from an anonymous tipster who decided to test Rebel News' "Donate to the Democracy Fund" campaign to see how it played out. As the kids say, you'll never believe what happened next.

Said tipster very carefully made a $20 donation to Ezra's campaign, and did it through the web page linked to above, so it is beyond dispute that the impression being deliberately left with donors is that, if they use that web page, their donation is going, not to Rebel News, but to The Democracy Fund, which is what makes their donation eligible for a tax receipt. Make sure you understand that -- Rebel News is emphatic that your tax receipt depends on you donating, not to Rebel News, but to The Democracy Fund. And all that is critically important for what happened next.

We return to anonymous tipster, who reports that, shortly after donating $20 ostensibly to The Democracy Fund, he received a polite email thanking him for his donation and assuring him of an eventual tax receipt to be issued by The Democracy Fund ... the sender of the email being "" That is already somewhat problematic since it suggests there is an unseemly level of entanglement between Rebel News and The Democracy Fund, to the extent that you send money to The Democracy Fund, and you get a thank-you note from Rebel News. It seems just a bit sketchy, but it's possible that it's still fine, if one accepts that Rebel is simply thanking people for their contribution. And then the hammer fell.

A couple days later, said tipster finally saw the charge on his Visa card for his $20 donation. Please don't make me explain why this is just wrong:

In short, despite Rebel News' emphatic assurances that donations eligible for tax receipts were going straight to The Democracy Fund (again, as required by law), those payments were, in fact, being received and processed by Rebel News.


At this point, it seems clear that this entire campaign is being run fully and completely by Der Rebel, who is doing all of the promotion and -- more disturbingly -- collection of donations that are legally required to be done by The Democracy Fund. And it seems clear that the participation of the mysterious Democracy Fund is limited to (from what I can see) simply being told who to eventually hand out tax receipts to come next year tax time. So this seems like a good time to remind all what the CRA has to say about these sorts of shenanigans:

At this point, it would seem the right time for the appropriate authorities to step in and take a good, long look at registered charity The Democracy Fund to see what other games they might be playing. And, no, as hard as it might be to believe, we're not done here.

P.S. I am reminded of newly-minted, utterly unqualified Rebel News doofus Adam Soos (pronounced "dumb shit"), who very, very, very unwisely publicly assured one and all:

Well, Adam, I think we've established that that's not true:

So you might want to go off and rethink that story, before you have to explain all this to the Canada Revenue Agency, Charities Directorate.

I'm just trying to be helpful.


Anonymous said...

I did what your tipster did and made a test donation of $20 to "The Democracy Fund", and I got exactly the same thing, but here's my question. If CRA rules that all this is a total scam and shuts it down, what happens to all the donors who were promised tax receipts?

I donated only $20 so it's not a big deal, but I remember Ezra claiming that if you donated $1,000, you'd get $400 back at tax time, and that's a fair bit of money, so if a donor made that donation assuming it would end up costing only $600 in the end, do they have any right to complain? And who would they complain to?

If I donated $1,000 and then had the tax receipt yanked out from under me, I'd be pretty pissed, but who should I be pissed at? Because in the e-mail I got thanking me for my donation, it says:

=== start ===

Thank you for your donation to The Democracy Fund to help fund the Fight the Fines initiative, including helping pay Pastor Artur's legal fees. 

Please see your donation confirmation below.  Official tax receipts will be issued by The Democracy Fund closer to the year's end. 
This is tax deductible receipt — the official receipt will be sent from The Democracy Fund.

Authorized by Joe Nadler

The Democracy Fund

=== end ===

So if I donated a lot and was told I won't get a tax receipt after all, do I get to sue The Democracy Fund as a corporation for the shortfall? Or Joe Nadler personally? I think that if I was promised a tax receipt and didn't get one, someone better be held accountable.

Anonymous said...

I'm betting that Adam Soos has no idea of what he might be getting into by, in the face of contradictory evidence, continuing to insist that "Rebel News doesn't see a single penny of [those donations]." If the CRA decides to look into this (and I can't see how they can avoid that now), they will absolutely seize on assurances like the one from Adam insisting everything is on the up-and-up, and ask him to explain the basis for that assurance, and who told him what and when.

If he pleads total ignorance, he might be OK, but if someone points out how those donations are indeed being collected by Rebel News, and he CONTINUES to publicly make those assurances, then he is headed for massive trouble, since he can then be accused of KNOWINGLY participating in a fraud.

What someone needs to do is go on Twitter, and reply to Adam, and point out what is clearly happening, and see what he does. If he backpedals furiously and claims he didn't know anything about this, he's probably fine. If he doubles down and continues to make the same claim knowing it appears to be false, then someone needs to take screenshots of those replies for the CRA. And Adam might think about lawyering up before he screws himself any further.

Anonymous said...

I filed a complaint with Canada Revenue at the link you gave, and I suggest everyone else do the same.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Me too.

Anonymous said...

Get screenshots, CC, because I suspect the shit is about to hit the fan for Ezra.

Anonymous said...

Here's the link to where Rebel's Adam Soos absolutely assures everyone that not a single penny of those donations is going to Rebel News:

I think it would be fun to drop him a reply and explain reality, and see what he says. I'm betting he'll just block you.

Anonymous said...

Why? Let the whole rats nest go down on this one.

Anonymous said...

The Democracy Fund used to be called BAO BAO with Love. Wtf is that?

CC said...

Patience, grasshopper ... I have not even *begun* to disembowel the shadowy creatures behind The Democracy Fund.

Anonymous said...

You guys are too generous. For my experiment, I gave them a buck. Figured they'd use up more time processing the contribution than the donation was worth.