Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) nearly doubled her income in 2010 from consulting fees she received from a nonprofit she co-founded, and Bass’s re-election campaign donated nearly $100,000 to that nonprofit between 2008 and 2011, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Bass, a vice presidential contender on Democratic presumptive nominee Joe Biden’s VP shortlist, co-founded a South Los Angeles-based nonprofit called the Community Coalition in 1990. Her community organizing with the Coalition laid the groundwork for her successful run for the California State Assembly in 2004, where she would eventually rise to the position of Speaker in 2008.
A Los Angeles Times review of Bass’s financial disclosures found that her State Assembly campaign committees paid the Community Coalition nearly $100,000 between 2008 and 2011. And in 2010, the Community Coalition paid Bass a total of $70,500 in consulting fees, an amount that nearly doubled her State Assembly salary that year.
Financial disclosures show that Bass’s campaign made two major donations to the nonprofit organization that she co-founded.
The first was for $47,000 given between late 2008 (the year Bass became Speaker of the California Assembly) and 2009.
The second donation was for $50,000 in late 2011 when Bass was closing out her Assembly campaign chest after she got elected to Congress.
Bass acknowledged to the Times that her fundraising ability flourished in 2008 after she became Speaker of the Assembly – which coincided with her campaign’s first major donation to the Community Coalition:
Bass said her donations grew considerably after she became speaker, a position that enabled her to raise more money. After she was elected to Congress, she wanted to give away what was left in her Assembly campaign accounts, she said.
However, the picture becomes a bit more complicated when one factors in the money the nonprofit paid Bass as a “consultant.”
“In 2010, the Community Coalition paid her $70,500 in consulting fees directly and through one of its contractors, according to interviews and public records,” the Times reports.
The $70,500 breaks down into two separate payments from 2010, according to the Times:
The Community Coalition directly paid Bass $26,500 to help it do research and appear in a short video to mark its 20th anniversary. Bass collected an additional $44,000 through a Community Coalition contract with Jemmott Rollins Group, a nonprofit consulting firm, to help devise fundraising strategies for community groups devastated by the Great Recession, according to a House filing and to Frances Jemmott, chief executive of Jemmott Rollins.
These consulting fees nearly doubled Bass’s reported salary in 2010 and are the only consulting income she received between 2003 and 2018 (a period which spans her political career), the Times reports:
Other than the $70,500, Bass reported no consulting income between 2003 and 2018, according to financial disclosure forms. Those payments nearly doubled her reported $94,000 salary in 2010 as a member of the Assembly. The year before, she was paid $139,000 as speaker, a position she gave up in early 2010 as she was facing term limits on her Assembly seat and preparing to run for Congress.
Bass claims that her campaign’s donations to the nonprofit she co-founded were unrelated to the consulting income the nonprofit paid her. She says the money the Community Coalition paid her came from outside grants it received from foundations like the California Endowment.
“I had no reason in the world to give them a contribution and ask for it back,” Bass told the Times.
Still, the arrangement “creates the appearance of a conflict of interest,” according to Kirk O. Hanson, senior fellow at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.
“It’s not a good idea to receive substantial income from organizations that are supported by contributions from your campaign fund,” Hanson told the Times. “It creates an appearance of a conflict of interest, that you have converted campaign funds into personal income.”
These latest revelations add to other concerns about Bass brought to light by the increased scrutiny of the VP vetting process.
She has come under criticism for her decades-long association with communists, her membership in a communist front group run by Cuba’s communist regime, her praise of Fidel Castro, and her public praise for her communist mentor and communist influencers.
Biden is expected to announce his vice presidential pick next week.
Author: Rebecca Mansour