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Thursday, March 7, 2019

15 YEARS OF FINANCIAL DATA: OFFICAL IRS FORM 990-PF REPORTS FOR CENTER FOR ALTERNATIVE MEDIA & CULTURE, MICHAEL MOORE'S PRIVATE FOUNDATION, REVEAL $213,501 DONATED TO THE TRAVERSE CITY FILM FESTIVAL: It Started In 2010...With $100!


The public claim by Moore and Glynn (shown above in a July 29, 2014 press release), that—via their private foundation—they donated $250,000 to the Traverse City Film Festival that year is directly contradicted by the foundation’s 2014 Form 990-PF federal tax filing.

“It is my understanding that Mr. Moore and Kathleen Glynn donated $200,000 to the TCFF in 2014 as a part of their divorce settlement. Though in press releases Mr. Moore described the donated amount as $250,000, TCFF only received a $200,000 donation as of the date of my termination by Mr. Moore in late December 2017. Mr. Moore allegedly earmarked the funds to be used for three program initiatives: Mike’s Movie Night, the State Theater Project, and distributing films. I use the term "allegedly" because -- while Mr. Moore did unilaterally declare his intentions to use the funds to promote his pet projects during the 2016 board of directors meeting -- the terms of the donation were never put in writing, TCFF never signed a restricted donation agreement with Mr. Moore or Kathleen Glynn, and the board of directors never voted to approve terms of use for the donation.” 

Deb Lake media statement
March 4, 2019 

The Michigan nonprofit domestic corporation that ultimately became Michael Moore and former wife Kathleen Glynn's private foundation began in Michigan on April 30, 1982. The original file, reproduced below, reveals the formation by three Flint, Michigan friends of Moore.

The three, including Jack Stanzler, Laurie White and Harold Ford, originally filed the formation documents with the Michigan Department of Commerce, for an organization that would “support non-profit community offerings of alternative music, film, theatre, music and art.”

That 1982 formation predated the release of Moore's 1989 film, “Roger & Me”, by nearly seven years.

After digging through 15 years (2000-2015) of the Center's official federal tax filings (IRS Form 990-PF, or Return of Private Foundation/Nonexempt Charitable Trust Treated as a Private Foundation), I discovered the extent of Moore's largesse to the festival he founded in 2005: donations to the Traverse City Film Festival by the Center totaled $213,501 between 2010 and 2014.

According to federal Form 990-PF tax records, the Traverse City Film Festival received $100 from the Center in 2010, $1,401 in 2012, $202,000 in 2013 and $10,000 in 2014, for a grand total of $213,501.

The Center's Michigan business filing history, reproduced below, reveals a patchy pattern of filing the required annual documents. For example, three annual reports (2006, 2008 and 2009) were all filed on the same day: March 24, 2010.

State of Michigan records reveal that the Center For Alternative Media & Culture was “automatically dissolved in the State of Michigan on December 31, 2015” after it failed to file the required annual reports for 2013 and 2014 and pay the respective filing fees.


The 2014 public claim by Moore and Glynn, via their private foundation, donated $250,000 to the Traverse City Film Festival that year is directly contradicted by the Center for Alternative Media & Culture's 2014 Form 990-PF federal tax filing.

But that public claim in 2014 of a donation from Moore wasn't the only one that created a wave of public goodwill and positive media reaction.


In 2011 Moore, pictured above with former Traverse City Film Festival Executive Director Deb Lake, was in Manistee, Michigan to kick off the fundraising campaign to restore the town's Vogue Theatre. 

Extensive news coverage of the event included what was later described as Moore's “personal check” for $10,000, seed money for the Vogue's restoration.


But that $10,000 didn't come from Moore's personal bank account, it came from his private foundation, the Center for Alternative Media & Culture.

As noted in an excerpt from the Center's 2012 Form 990-PF, a $10,000 donation was made to the Manistee County Community Foundation, a 501c3 organization that received and managed the grants and donations that were received to support the revitalization project.

Is it illegal to claim you've made a personal donation to a cause when it's really coming from your foundation?

Probably not.

Is it a bullshit move?

In my opinion, it is.

But, like a lot of bullshit moves, it worked.

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