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Conservative group accuses Maryland's Rockeymoore Cummings of IRS violations; she calls complaint 'lies'

Conservative group accuses Maryland's Rockeymoore Cummings of IRS violations; she calls complaint 'lies'
Maryland Democratic Party chair Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings delivers remarks at a rally for General Assembly Democrats at The Westin Annapolis in January. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

Maryland Democratic Party chairwoman Maya Rockeymoore Cummings on Tuesday defended herself against accusations from a conservative watchdog group that a non-profit she runs violated the Internal Revenue Code.

The National Legal and Policy Center on Monday filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service against the Center for Global Policy Solutions, a non-profit organization headed by Rockeymoore Cummings. In the complaint, the group argued her non-profit operates “almost as a single entity” with a for-profit firm she also runs named Global Policy Solutions LLC.

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The complaint, which was first reported by the Washington Examiner, accused Rockeymoore Cummings and her husband, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, who is chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, of receiving a “illegal private benefit” through the non-profit’s tax-exempt status.

In response, Rockeymoore Cummings called the accusations “lies” and a “hit piece.”

"It appears a conservative front group and a news outlet funded by a Republican billionaire are pushing a hit piece filled with faulty research, lies and innuendo in an attempt to tarnish my personal reputation, professional work and public service as well as that of my spouse, U.S. Congressman Elijah E. Cummings — who holds a critical oversight role in our nation’s government,” Rockeymoore Cummings said in a statement. “As the Chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, and as a public policy professional with nearly three decades of experience I reject this distasteful attempt to intimidate my family into silence at such a pivotal moment in our nation's history.”

From 2013 to 2016, the Center for Global Policy Solutions received more than $5 million in grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, according to the complaint.

“The funds were purportedly provided to fight childhood obesity,” the National Legal and Policy Center wrote on its website. “The Complaint asks the IRS to investigate whether ‘its organizers are getting fat off the grants.’’’

The conservative watchdog group alleged Rockeymoore Cummings’ for-profit and non-profit’s operations “appear to have been indistinguishable.”

“The two entities have shared office space, telephones, etc., all of which are flagrant violations of the Internal Revenue Code,” the complaint alleges.

Tom Anderson, director of NLPC’s Government Integrity Project, said on the group’s website that allegations against Rockeymoore Cummings undermine her husband’s argument that Trump disclose his tax returns.

“Rep. Cummings is demanding President Trump’s tax returns and financial records,” Anderson said. “It looks like he has some tax problems of his own.”

In her statement, Rockeymoore Cummings confirmed that her firm did win childhood obesity prevention grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She said she used the grant money to help “states and localities advance healthy eating and active living initiatives in an effort to combat the nation’s growing childhood obesity epidemic.”

“The formation and operations of both GPS and CGPS have been guided by legal and accounting professionals and comply with accepted industry and ethical standards,” she said in as statement.

Rockeymoore Cummings added that she’s “proud of the work we have accomplished throughout the years.”

“This attack only strengthens my resolve to serve and advance an inclusive and equitable agenda for everyone living in America,” she wrote.

An IRS spokesman said he was prohibited from commenting on the complaint.

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