WASHINGTON, DC, May 17, 2021 (ENS) – Government watchdog Accountable.US has filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service requesting an investigation of the nonprofit American Stewards of Liberty for operating as an “action organization” that devotes a substantial portion of its activities to influencing legislation through lobbying and other means, in violation of its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
This year, American Stewards of Liberty has waged what Accountable. US alleges is a misleading war against the Biden administration’s historic decade of conservation proposal, known as “30 by 30” because it aims to conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands by 2030.
American Stewards of Liberty, ASL, says on its website, “The 30 x 30 program is a plan advanced by radical environmental activists to permanently protect 30% of America’s land and oceans by 2030.”
Falsely labeling it as a “land grab,” the American Stewards of Liberty holds sessions where it indoctrinates attendees with misinformation and instructs them on strategies for fighting the proposal. An attendee of one session compared 30 by 30 to genocide under Stalin, Accountable.US alleges.
The controversy has surfaced in Congress. On May 7, Representative Lauren Boebert, a Colorado Republican, and 22 other Republicans, filed the “30 x 30 Termination Act.” This bill prohibits federal funds from being spent to carry out the program, ensures no net-loss of non-federal land in counties and states that already have a significant federal presence, ensures no net-loss of multiple-use activities without Congressional approval, and prohibits unilateral mineral withdrawals without Congressional approval.
Aside from the value of the extensive 30 by 30 conservation effort President Joe Biden is proposing, another important issue raised by the complaint is exactly how much lobbying is permitted by the IRS if an organizations wants to keep its nonprofit status.
Accountable.US president Kyle Herrig wrote in his letter to the IRS, “A review of ASL’s activities shows substantial lobbying and a primary objective that may be attained only by legislation or defeat of proposed legislation.”
Herrig enumerated the ASL’s activities as: “drafting model resolutions for county governments to pass, grassroots lobbying at the local, state, and federal level, and direct local lobbying.
He told the IRS that those activities all attempt to influence legislation that would qualify ASL as an “action organization” because “the 30 by 30 opposition program is a significant part of its activities and a primary objective of the organization.”
As the “Salt Lake City Tribune” reported, ASL has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Utah counties.
ASL’s push against Biden’s 30 by 30 conservation initiative violates its tax-exempt status, alleges Accountable.US.
Utah’s Kane County gave nearly half a million dollars in recent years to the Texas-based nonprofit American Stewards of Liberty for consulting and legal services regarding public land management.
Now ASL, has emerged as a leading voice against President Joe Biden’s conservation agenda in potential violation of its tax-exempt status.
The Texas-based group, run by wife-husband Dan and Margaret Byfield, holds 501(c)(3) status, which would prohibit it from engaging in political action – activities aimed at promoting or blocking legislation. Its campaign against Biden’s “30 by 30” initiative seems to disregard the federal rules for tax-exempt groups, with direct appeals that pressure elected representatives at all levels of government, alleges Accountable.US.
Featured image: Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1984, is 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas in Nevada’s Amargosa Valley. The desert oasis provides habitat for at least 24 plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. Four fish and one plant are listed as endangered. Sept. 19, 2009 (Photo courtesy U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Pacific Southwest Region)