Nonprofit paper noncompliant

If you live in a single-family home in Thousand Oaks, two non-subscription papers land on your driveway each month, one is the weekly T.O. Acorn and the other is the Conejo Guardian.

If you’re a dedicated T.O. Acorn reader, you know that the CG has been called out with some frequency for spreading falsehoods and targeting local public schools and community members. You may not have realized that the Guardian operates as a 501(c)3 charity.

Recently, a new chapter in the Guardian saga has unfolded.

After remaining entirely out of compliance for more than two years, essentially the whole of its existence, it has been suspended by the California attorney general’s office and must cease business operations, including the soliciting and disbursement of donations.

As a nonprofit, the Guardian was required to file with the Internal Revenue Service, California Franchise Tax Board, California secretary of state, and the state’s attorney general’s office.

This is how charities show they are following their stated mission and not rewarding directors or family members with donated funds or spending donations outside their mission.

This process helps keep the public from falling prey to fraud and reassures us that the organizations we support with our tax-deductible donations are on the up and up.

Because the paper failed to meet these obligations, the public knows very little about the Conejo Guardian’s operation. There is one 990EZ filing discoverable online, and frankly, it’s bewildering.

CG claims it spent $10,237 on print and digital news that year. That’s 39,000 households (their number) multiplied 12 months, equaling 468,000 papers delivered to driveways for $10K?

That’s 2 cents to print each multipage color newspaper? It costs 10 times that to print just one page. Additional gaps in the filing raise questions about CG’s revenue sources and payment methods. The public has the right to know what’s going on.

Prior to this suspension, the Conejo Guardian’s charity status lent an air of legitimacy it never earned. While we wait for the truth about their finances, and failure to inform the public, keep in mind, we shouldn’t trust what they print.

Betsy Connolly
Thousand Oaks

–To read more about this issue, read this article published in this week’s edition of the Thousand Oaks Acorn.