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Lawyers Question Wexner's Financial Arrangement with Jeffrey Epstein

Jeffrey Tenenbaum, head of the nonprofit practice at the DC-based law firm Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss PLLC, appeared on NPR Affiliate WOSU Public Media to discuss the steps nonprofits can take to prevent the type of misappropriation alleged in the Jeffrey Epstein case.

Tenenbaum says he does not know the details of the Wexner-Epstein arrangement and cannot comment on it directly, but that there are measures nonprofits can take to avoid misappropriation.

“Here in this particular case involving Wexner and Epstein, it certainly seems like none of these steps were taken," Tenenbaum says. "Things like requiring double signatures, double authorization, back up documentation before funds can be paid or transferred, segregation of duties amongst employees, doing inventories of your fixed assets."

He also says Wexner could have set up electronic alerts so he knew every time a payment or transfer was made.

"Making sure that everyone in the finance and accounting department is required to take a certain length of vacation each year, at least two weeks, to see if that person is involved in a fraud,” Tenenbaum adds. “Because if that person's gone and someone else is assuming his or her duties, it gives you a chance to spot what's going on."

NPR Affiliate WOSU Public Media

Jeff Tenenbaum interviewed for Through the Noise podcast

Jeff Tenenbaum, chair of the nonprofit practice at the DC-based law firm Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss PLLC, was interviewed by Ernesto Gluecksmann – host of the Through the Noise podcast – about his nonprofit organizations practice at the firm. The podcast debuted on May 30, 2019. Through the Noise is a podcast that explores hurdles, solutions and the process of cultivating success for nonprofits through conversations with executive directors, CEOs and other nonprofit professionals.

Through the Noise Podcast

Triangle nonprofit leaders earn million-dollar salaries. Here’s who they are.

The IRS can take action in cases of exorbitant compensation, but it rarely does.

Jeff Tenenbaum, head of the nonprofit practice at the DC-based law firm of Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss PLLC, said for 501(c)(3)s, the IRS can levy penalty taxes on those receiving excessive compensation as well as those who approved it.

He said for 501(c)(6)s such as the CPA institute, “revocation of tax-exempt status is the IRS’ only remedy — and one rarely utilized.”

The Charlotte Observer

Montana Must Prove Harm, Law Violation in IRS Donor Rules Suit

Other practitioners aren't so sure about the APA argument. “You can't generalize about the procedural propriety of revenue procedures,” Jeffrey Tenenbaum, a nonprofit attorney at Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss PLLC in Washington, told Bloomberg Tax. “It depends on the substance of the revenue procedure.”

Tenenbaum said Montana's APA position “may be a bit of a stretch.” The lawsuit, filed July 24 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, “certainly highlights the fact this seems to be a political dispute dressed up in procedural arguments—on both sides,” he said.

Still, Tenenbaum said, states “absolutely” have a legitimate argument for the IRS to provide them with information they need to enforce their own standards for entities’ tax-exempt status.

Bloomberg Law

Tax Law Changes for Exempt Organizations Raise Filing Concerns

“The AICPA did a thorough and highly detailed job not only in pointing out needed areas for improvement and refinement of the Form 990, but also in supplying the specific verbiage needed to effectuate the changes,” Jeffrey Tenenbaum, a nonprofit attorney with Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss PLLC in Washington, told Bloomberg Tax.

Bloomberg BNA Daily Tax Report

Guns at Conventions: Are Association Being Careful Enough?

“Associations have the right to apply reasonable restrictions [on firearms] that go beyond local law since their events are private,” said Jeffrey S. Tenenbaum, Sr. Counsel, Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss PLLC, an association law expert. Similarly, he noted, sporting events, concerts and other private happenings regularly ban firearms and employ various manners of security for entry.


Meet Our Team

Jeffrey S. Tenenbaum's Profile Image
Jeff is one of the nation’s leading nonprofit attorneys, and a highly regarded and frequent author, lecturer, media commentator, and expert witness on nonprofit legal matters. Formerly the longtime chair of one of the country’s largest nonprofit law practices, he is the recipient of numerous distinguished national awards and honors.
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Nisha G. Thakker's Profile Image
Nisha is an experienced in-house nonprofit attorney and senior-level business partner. Formerly the associate general counsel of a large REALTOR® association in Northern Virginia, she has a broad understanding of nonprofit legal matters as well as business operations, governance, and development.
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Julie B. Kulovits's Profile Image
Julie is an experienced in-house nonprofit attorney, executive team member, and a former litigator. Previously the in-house general counsel of a North American medical professional association and a civil litigator in private practice, she has extensive experience with a wide array of legal issues facing nonprofits as well as a nuanced understanding of the business and governance issues in the nonprofit space.
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