The origin story of the secretive nonprofit that is leading efforts to invalidate Montana’s campaign finance laws keeps getting murkier.
In a document filed with the Internal Revenue Service, the group claimed Jacob Jabs as its “primary donor” who had “agreed to provide $300,000” to get the group rolling in 2008.
It appears the group was referring to Jacob Jabs, the president and CEO of American Furniture Warehouse, based in Colorado, where ATP was created.
But a spokeswoman for Jabs said he's never heard of the group. ATP’s current executive director says he wasn’t with the organization at the time. The woman who signed the document would not return calls from the Center for Public Integrity.
“Someone is not coming clean,” said Marcus Owens, the former director of the division that handles nonprofit corporations at the IRS. “A knowing effort to mislead the IRS is a crime and people go to jail for that.”
Jabs has been a major supporter of Republican candidates and causes. He gave heavily to an anti-union ballot initiative in Colorado in 2008, and is a donor to Mitt Romney.
As for the gift to ATP, Jabs claims it didn’t happen.
“Mr. Jabs has not heard of this group, nor did he give them money,” said Charlie Saulis, Jabs’ spokeswoman.
Athena Dalton signed the September 2008 letter to the IRS which referenced a communication with the furniture magnate, during which Jabs “assured us that he will no longer contribute” if ATP did not receive its exempt status in the next two weeks.