Questions linger over group’s 501 (c) 3 status

Questions linger over group’s 501 (c) 3 status
One of the mailers, shown above, that the alleged 501 (c) 3 organization We Love Encinitas sent out during the election season. The group’s status is being questioned. In the mailer, then-Councilwoman Teresa Barth’s image was not included.

ENCINITAS — A group called We Love Encinitas sent out mailers during the campaign season using survey information highlighting citizen satisfaction. The group is now being scrutinized over its 501 (c) 3 status.  

Earlier this year it wasn’t apparent what group or individual was behind the two mailers that were sent out in October. The mailers contained a contact address, which led to a shopping center and a crude website that showed only the survey results. The site has since been revamped to include news and happenings around Encinitas.

Last month, it was established that Paul Gaspar, who owns Gaspar Physical Therapy and is the husband to current City Councilwoman Kristin Gaspar, is the CEO and founder of the We Love Encinitas group.

Gaspar said that his only goal with the group, which claims to be a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit on its mailers, was to advance positive news about Encinitas and city staff.

But all searches into the group’s 501 (c) 3 status have yielded no results.

Inquiries made to the Internal Revenue Service turned up no records showing that We Love Encinitas, or We Love Encinitas Community Advocates as they are referred to, has a 501 (c) 3 status. The California Franchise Tax Board also said that the group wasn’t listed as a tax-exempt.

Further investigation into parties attached to the group showed that Kristin Gaspar was the agent of process, as listed on documents received from the California Secretary of State’s office dated on Oct. 22.

When contacted for a response she said, “Any information listing me as the registered agent is clearly in error as I have not in the past and do not currently serve in this role. Your future and current questions can only be addressed by the We Love Encinitas organization.”

In documents dated Nov. 6, she was no longer listed as the agent of process, Paul Gaspar was named in place.

An agent of process is an individual or corporation designated to accept court papers if the entity is sued, according to the Secretary of State’s website.

The documents also list David Meyer, a real estate consultant and land developer in Encinitas as the secretary and chief financial officer of the group. Meyer’s past advocacy includes forming a political action group to oppose policies promoted by the late Councilwoman Maggie Houlihan.

A page from We Love Encinitas' Articles of Incorporation. It lists Councilwoman Kristin Gaspar as the agent for service of process. Documents filed later list Paul Gaspar as the agent for service of process.

In an email, Meyer said that any questions about his involvement with the group should be directed through We Love Encinitas, and not his personal email and phone number.

All requests for comments from We Love Encinitas, including whether the group has been granted or is applying for 501 (c) 3 status, have gone unanswered.

As of last week, the Fair Political Practices Commission said that one complaint had been received about the group. However, it was dismissed due to the fact that the group hasn’t explicitly advocated for any councilmembers in its mailers.

Of the two mailers sent out, one walks a fine line between what a 501 (c) 3 can and cannot do, especially given the timing of when the mailers were sent out, said Marco Gonzalez, a lawyer with the Coast Law Group, which brought Paul Gaspar’s name to light.

Drawing criticism from some, the group’s second mailer included survey data from the private firm True North Research, also based in Encinitas, next to Councilmembers’ pictures and quotes, but leaving off Councilmember Teresa Barth’s image.

Previously, Paul Gaspar said the group’s mailers and an ad it placed in U-T San Diego were reviewed by lawyers who deemed them nonpolitical.

City activist Dennis Lees said he is filing a complaint with the IRS regarding the group’s claim they are a 501 (c) 3, as indicated on the mailers. Lees said he hopes the IRS investigates the group.

“They’re playing games that are unethical and possibly illegal,” Lees said.

According to the IRS, a 501 (c) 3 is a tax-exempt organization that operates for religious, charitable, scientific, literary and educational purposes, among other categories. Donations to many 501 (c) 3s are tax deductible. Organizations with the designation “may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against candidates.”

Gonzalez said he doesn’t intend on taking any legal action against the group.

“The consequences will likely be felt at the ballot box,” Gonzalez said, adding that he would like to see the city have a larger conversation about “deceptive” slate mailers.

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  1. mark scoular says:

    It is unfortunate that those funded by the Lincoln Club (Gaspar, Stocks,Muir) feel they can’t operate in the light of day and when discovered they scurry off into dark corners.

    If Gaspar wants to change her approach to government then own up and open up. People may not agree with her views but it is her tactics that bother people. If she wants to have Sherry Hodges as her political mentor then expect a rough ride.

    When Muir was caught violating campaign laws at least he owned up and apologized. Gaspar should do the same!

  2. Corrupt Coast News says:

    Again the Coast News is trying to cover up the illegal advocacy by Jim Kydd, publisher of the Coast News. He ran a secret vicious smear campaign on the front page of his paper bought bumper hateful bumper stickers which his supporters used to litter the public right of way. And the supporters of the new Council majority have the audacity to throw a party for him to celebrate those illegal activities? Wow! That is a new low and shows clear disrespect for the law. Pictures of that party can be found on the Leucadia Blog.

    • Esteban Llaves says:

      The plaintive voice of Jerome Stocks is redolent in the writing of this piece (December 14, 2012 at 8:08 am). Alright, perhaps acolyte Mike Andreen too. They’re often laced with a false sense of outrage, which has become almost comical to read, considering the underhanded backroom shenanigans of these guys. The intention of course is to try and elicit that same outrage from other readers.

      Problem is that all the other readers helped vote this piece of human samsonite out of office.

      You’re a sneaky one, Stocks. No one will ever accuse you of not being that. That’s only one of the reasons you will always be known as the WORST. MAYOR. IN. THE. HISTORY. OF. ENCINITAS.

      Long live Jim Kydd and our Coast News! Thank you!

  3. flaire says:

    Deal with it, sore loser, and I DO mean “loser”.

  4. Rogelio Espinosa says:

    To Corrupt Coast News: Pobrecito de tí.

    You can only attack Jim Kydd and The Coast News. It shows you are bereft of any argument against the possible illegal behavior of the Gaspars and David Meyer. I guess this means that the article is truthful and accurate and that you have no way to defend them.

    I eagerly await the fallout of this contretemps and the reporting of it by The Coast News. It doesn’t look good for the participants and their supporters. It’s likely the end of the political career of Kristin Gaspar. Like a flashing meteor that quickly burns itself out. She’s getting some very bad advice.

  5. The Coastal Watchdog says:

    Where are the pictures on the Leucadia Blog? I can’t find them.

  6. Lynn Marr says:

    Perhaps Councilmember Kristin Gaspar’s decision to decline nomination for appointment as mayor or deputy mayor had something to do with her realization that her involvement in this group is questionable? Remember, Mayor Teresa Barth was ready to nominate Gaspar as mayor, knowing what we now know about Gaspar’s relationship to the non-profit group.

    To me, Gaspar’s decision to decline, under the circumstances, was appropriate. I also appreciate that through the Coast News, I now know of David Meyer’s involvement. This shows, again, that the previous Council Majority, including Stocks and Bond, were solidly aligned with development interests.

    Rather than a discussion about slate mailers, which might be a good idea, but may not result in any enforceable actions due to recent Supreme Court rulings, Council would be wise to instead examine its overly cozy relationship with a few favored business associations and non-profits, as well as independent contractors, companies and/or individuals with whom the City does business on an ongoing basis.

    For example, The Leucadia 101 Mainstreet Ass. has been lobbying Council for roundabouts and lane elimination almost since its inception. While there are some great folks associated with this non-profit, many residents in Leucadia are questioning the fact that it receives most of its revenues from direct city subsidies.

    These subsidies include an arrangement engineered through Peder Norby, who can often be seen sitting in Leucadia 101 Mainstreet’s headquarters, whose rent is subsidized by the City, as is the compensation of its employees. Many also see Norby a development lobbyist, using his development relationships and associations to the “little guy’s” disadvantage in Norby’s role as “facilitator” for the General Plan Update process.

    Norby also “facilitated” a set-up whereby Leucadia 101 Mainstreet Association, comprised of a relatively few businesses and property owners on the west side of North Highway 101, only, gets significant income from rents paid by vendors at Sunday Leucadia Farmers Market events at Paul Ecke Central School.

    This “rental” income should actually go, in its entirety, to EUSD, if it is in such dire straights that it has to lay off teachers, despite the fact that Prop O was passed in 2008, Prop P passed in 2020, and Prop 30 passed in 2012, all designed to help out our students and teachers at our public schools, at taxpayers’ expense! But Superintendent Tim Baird just asked for a second time in the last few months for a raise, and was able to persuade what appears to be an easily “bamboozled” Board of Trustees, with the exception of Mo Muir, to approve an increase to his $200,000 salary he had been earning since coming to this school district in 2009.

    Another idea would be to add the Sunday Farmers’ Market rent money to a “bank” for affordable housing solutions, so that not as much new build must be forced on us in order to meet our affordable housing quota, as dictated by SANDAG.

    What’s NOT RIGHT is that Leucadia 101 Mainstreet Ass. receives only 7% of its revenue from membership dues. While I support a thriving business community, it should NOT be at the expense of divisiveness and discourtesy to residents adjacent to the North Highway 101 corridor who do not support traffic circles and lane elimination due to our concerns about cut through traffic speeding through our neighborhoods.

    Streets adjacent to the North 101 Corridor are widely used for beach access and recreation, including by dog walkers, pedestrians of all kinds, people pushing baby strollers, bicyclists, skaters, skateboarders, kids playing, and people going to and from the beach, on Neptune, and students walking or bicycling to and from school, on Vulcan. We also are very concerned about slowing down already subpar emergency response times.

    City subsidies are all at taxpayers’ expense. The City should re-examine its relationship with business association non-profits, which should have to apply, annually, for community grants as all other non-profits do. Also contractors, such as Norby, or any company or individual acting as an independent contractor making $100,000 per year or more, should have to go through an open bid contract renewal process yearly.

    The three year contract that was arranged with True North Survey should be renegotiated. ALL of the public speakers had spoken AGAINST awarding the contractor with the job of doing what of course turned out to be a “feel-good” survey during election years. This survey turned out to be yet another “secret subsidy” to the group We Love Encinitas.

    The old Chamber of Commerce was given massive yearly subsidies, including $94,000 to relocate its headquarters (now no longer used by the Chamber) to Second Street, despite the fact that the volunteers who worked at the Chamber preferred the old location, close to Cottonwood Creek, near the old Smart & Final, because of its easier parking and accessibility to the freeway. Encinitas First was published by the old Chamber of Commerce with many “puff pieces” for now disgraced, conflicted and convicted ex mayor Dan Dalager as well as ex mayor Jerome Stocks.

    Subsidies to business groups should be vetted before the public, during the allocation of community grants. Any non-profit that is awarded subsidies or grants through the city should have its books open to City and public scrutiny.

  7. Esteban Llaves says:

    Nice bit of clarification on all this, Lynn. Thank you for helping air this out to the public and the media. So much backroom dealing has gone on in Encinitas. We’re slowly getting rid of the good ol’ boys’ network. Enough is enough.

    Still, something I’m not clear about though …

    Is this the same David Meyer who had Maggie Houlihan followed around by a mimicking clown on all her public outings, keeping his identity a secret for as long as possible?

    Was he also involved in attempting to rezone the Eckes’ flower fields a few years ago into dense housing, vis-a-vis the specious “Keep Flowers In Encinitas” campaign?

    And now this: “We Love Encinitas”? Say it ain’t so, Dave!

    Am I missing any other things? Readers?

  8. kathleen2 says:

    Yes, Esteben, David Meyer is the one who paid for the clown.

    David Meyer boasts about being the one who helped write the state density bonus law and his name has been connected with many of the density bonus projects in this city.

    Although David Meyer is married to Elizebeth Ecke it is my understanding that he has never worked for Carltas nor for the Ecke Floral Business.

  9. The Coastal Watchdog says:

    David Meyer was also the person who pushed the Nantucket project on Sheridan and Andrew in Leucadia through the Planning Department. Barratt American was the builder, the project went bankrupt, and the two low-income units were never built. These two units were originally to go into the Ecke Family Trust, but Meyer gave them back to Barratt just before the bankruptcy and walked away without any financial liability.

    He’s also involved with the Bahlmann project on Saxony which is just to the north of the Ecke property. The Planning Commission did not approve the project, he immediately appealed, and the city council supported him. He knew he had the 3 votes he needed.

    Meyer was not openly involved with the rezone of the Ecke property on Saxony. He has his own company DCM Properties, Inc in Encinitas and isn’t part of Carltas, except though his marriage to Lizbeth Ecke. He also was the founder of FlowerPac, a political action group that strongly opposed Maggie Houlihan and supported the now disgraced Dan Dalager.

    • Esteban Llaves says:

      Coastal Watchdog: Thank you. Important that the community know who the behind-the-scenes players are. Especially if/when they’re trying to keep their heads down.

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