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Trump Learns From the Best

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While it’s true enough that of all conservative groups, everyday Mormons were the ones most likely to not be able to pull the ballot for Donald Trump in 2016, most of them did. And it makes sense since their leaders and Trump have a whole lot in common.

A former investment manager alleges in a whistleblower complaint to the Internal Revenue Service that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has amassed about $100 billion in accounts intended for charitable purposes, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by The Washington Post.

The confidential document, received by the IRS on Nov. 21, accuses church leaders of misleading members — and possibly breaching federal tax rules — by stockpiling their surplus donations instead of using them for charitable works. It also accuses church leaders of using the tax-exempt donations to prop up a pair of businesses.

A spokesman for the church did not respond to detailed questions from The Post about the complaint. “The Church does not provide information about specific transactions or financial decisions,” spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement.

“Having seen tens of billions in contributions and scores more in investment returns come in, and having seen nothing except two unlawful distributions to for-profit concerns go out, he was dejected beyond words, and so was I,” Lars Nielsen wrote.

He said he was coming forward without his brother’s approval because he believed the information was too important to remain confidential. “I know that sometimes newspapers use anonymous sources,” he said. “But that is usually not best for a story.”

In remarks last year, a high-ranking cleric in the church, Bishop Gérald Caussé, said it “pays taxes on any income it derives from revenue-producing activities that are regularly carried on and are not substantially related to its tax-exempt purposes.”

The church typically collects about $7 billion each year in contributions from members, according to the complaint. Mormons, like members of some other faith groups, are asked to contribute 10 percent of their income to the church, a practice known as tithing.

While about $6 billion of that income is used to cover annual operating costs, the remaining $1 billion or so is transferred to Ensign, which plows some into an investment portfolio to generate returns, according to the complaint.

Based on internal accounting documents from February 2018, the complaint estimates the portfolio has grown in value from $12 billion in 1997, when Ensign was formed, to about $100 billion today.

I know I am not the only one wondering at those $6 billion operating expenses too. That’s, uh, impossible to justify? But in any case, this might as well be Trump University, except the suckers are baked in generation after generation and with a set income handed over to the grifters. This is pretty much the perfect scheme. Donald Trump has a lot to learn.

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