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Clint Eastwood, Gary Sinise, Kelsey Grammer, Jerry Bruckheimer, Jon Voight, Dennis Miller, Patricia Heaton, Robert Duvall, Pat Boone, and David Mamet are all members of Friends of Abe.
When Sinise founded it in 2004 -- with help from longtime screenwriter, producer and director, Lionel Chetwind -- Friends of Abe was a secretive and quasi-underground operation. Until recently, little was known about the organization other than it is named after Abraham Lincoln, and, that its events brought such top-shelf conservatives as Ted Cruz, Karl Rove, Scott Walker, Antonin Scalia, Liz Cheney, Rick Perry, Rush Limbaugh, Paul Ryan and Ann Coulter, out to Hollywood to meet up with conservatives in the entertainment industry.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz "suggested to the Hollywood Reporter that IRS's reluctance to immediately ordain FOA as a nonprofit tax-free charity was a left-wing government conspiracy," AlterNet's Adam Parfrey recently reported.
Now, after nearly three years of battling the Internal Revenue Service over its tax-exempt status, the Friends of Abe (FOA), which claims to have no political agenda and considers itself an educational fellowship, was granted 501(c)(3) status.
Battling the IRS
The fight over its non-profit status brought Friends of Abe into the spotlight. AlterNet's Parfrey pointed out that before it was approved for 501(c)(3)status, Trace Gallagher appeared on Fox News' "The Kelly File," hosted by Megyn Kelly, and reported that FOA was "seeking 501(c)3 tax-exempt status, so that donations could be tax deductible just like some progressive groups. Getting the exemption would prohibit the group from partisan activity [and FOA] den[ies] having a political agenda. 'Friends of Abe' says it doesn't just suspect they were being targeted by the IRS, they say they were told they're being targeted by the IRS."
Jeremy Boreing, described by Parfrey as "an apparent documentary filmmaker who serves as the public operative for Sinise," also appeared on "The Kelly File": "We understand through our attorneys that our agent at the IRS who was handling our file, specifically said we had been targeted on the BOLO (Be On the Lookout) list. So I think that probably the reason we're being targeted is we filed as a conservative educational fellowship."
Apparently Sinise has been "telling its members that it had full 501(c)(3) status as early as 2011, in order to solicit donations. In December 2011, [he] sent out an email to FOA members trumpeting the status.... [and he] continually reassured [them] that their donations were fully tax deductible and that FOA had full 501(c)(3) status."
FOA's hidden Holocaust denier
Parfrey's piece doesn't end with FOA's fight with the IRS. He provides some interesting details from a soon-to-be-released book about the work of a man named "David Stein," who, according to Parfrey, "became a preeminent West Coast GOP organizer and Friends of Abe activist. However, David Stein really wasn't David Stein: He was "outed by an ex-girlfriend (and FOA member) as having been the notorious 'Jewish Holocaust denier' David Cole back in the early 1990s."
The new book, authored by Cole and due out in mid-May, is titled Republican Party Animal: The 'Bad Boy of Holocaust History' Blows the Lid Off Hollywood's Secret Right-Wing Underground. Last May, The Guardian's Rory Carroll reported on the Stein/Cole story: "To those who knew him, or thought they knew him, he was a cerebral, fun-loving gadfly who hosted boozy gatherings for Hollywood's political conservatives. David Stein brought right-wing congressmen, celebrities, writers and entertainment industry figures together for shindigs, closed to outsiders, where they could scorn liberals and proclaim their true beliefs.
"Over the past five years Stein's organization, Republican Party Animals, drew hundreds to regular events in and around Los Angeles, making him a darling of conservative blogs and talk-shows. That he made respected documentaries on the Holocaust added intellectual cachet and Jewish support to Stein's cocktail of politics, irreverence and rock and roll."
In fact, Stein/Cole is a longtime Holocaust denier, "who questioned the existence of Nazi gas chambers." According to The Guardian, as a young man, Cole "was a vilified guest on chat shows hosted by Phil Donahue, Montel Williams and Morton Downey, among others, and was depicted as a neo-Nazi on news shows such as 60 Minutes and 48 Hours."
An unrepentant Cole told The Guardian that he hadn't changed his views on the Holocaust: "The best guess is yes, there were gas chambers. But there is still a lot of murkiness about the camps. I haven't changed my views. But I regret I didn't have the facility with language that I have now. I was just a kid."
Since the Stein/Cole story, which shook up the leadership of Friends of Abe when it first surfaced, is more than a year old, the publication of Cole's book might not make undue waves for FOA.
AlterNet's Adam Parfrey concluded his piece on Friends of Abe by pointing out that the organization had "successfully gamed the IRS." He wonders whether "the IRS [will] show any interest in investigating the fact that from 2011 onward FOA illegally raised money by claiming a status it didn't have?" Don't count on it.