As fragment of his advertising campaign, he has touted an organization, the Messner Foundation, which he says selects low-earnings students each year to receive college scholarships. “, it’s mainly my private cash,” he told Republicans watching a “Beer Caucus” Zoom name in Would possibly possibly with his rival, retired Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc. “, we characteristic out some things in the law company around the country to raise cash for the foundation. But in the raze we don’t raise that mighty so it’s in fact my cash that goes into it to abet these kids.” He acknowledged the foundation had been began “perchance 10 years up to now.”
On its internet page, the Messner Foundation solicits donations and functions from students by claiming it “identifies deserving high college students who occupy demonstrated leadership traits and presents those students the sources and connections they want to flourish. The goal of the Messner Foundation is to cultivate the next era of industrial and group leaders.”
The Messner Foundation became once created to occupy time the 15th anniversary of Messner’s law company, Messner Reeves LLP, in step with an interview Messner gave to the Denver Industry Journal in 2010. “The well-known scholarship winner will inaugurate college in tumble 2011,” the article acknowledged. “The foundation will combine the scholarships with mentoring and guidance programs.” Messner is quoted as announcing that he “wished to inaugurate a car to abet kids who are equally located as I became once.”
In advertising the scholarships, the Messner Foundation is closely associated with Messner’s law company. A Messner partner hawks the scholarships on tv. The Foundation has raised cash by raffling off pricey autos, most honest currently a almost $59,000 Vary Rover in 2019.
Certainly, the foundation became once before everything funded by a $100,000 contribution by Messner Reeves, in step with the 2009 tax catch filed by the foundation. No different gargantuan contributor is listed, although Corky Messner is listed as the president of the foundation each year.
Then, oddly, the $100,000 correct sat there — year after year. Just a few hundred dollars in hobby became once earned. But no funds occupy been distributed, without reference to the announcement that scholarships would inaugurate in 2011.
Philip Hackney, an associate law professor at the University of Pittsburgh who examined the tax filings for The Fact Checker, acknowledged the tax law for non-public foundations requires that 5 percent of the resources be distributed each year. Otherwise, the foundation must pay a sexy equal to 30 percent of the volume no longer distributed. “I’m frightened by the true fact that they did nothing for the first four or 5 years,” he acknowledged. “That doesn’t pass muster.”
“The Messner Foundation has persistently been viewed by the IRS as being in moral standing and we occupy now adhered to the recommendation of our accountant in that regard,” acknowledged a advertising campaign assertion.
The 2013 tax catch listed the resources as $100,374. “It’s an especially minute foundation,” Hackney famend.
At remaining, in 2014, a disbursement became once made. Nonetheless it became once no longer for a scholarship for a low-earnings student. Tax records exhibit the foundation made a $50,000 contribution to the Colorado Academy, some of the state’s elite non-public colleges, for “building of athletic facilities.” (The advertising campaign says the cash funded a baseball discipline.)
The donation to Colorado Academy — which Messner’s sons attended from kindergarten thru 12th grade — prick the foundation’s resources in half of.
That contribution became once amongst $700,000 in donations that Colorado Academy got that year. The college in 2014 had an endowment of $22 million, in step with its tax filings, and on its internet page boasts that its “verdant 94-acre campus is appealing, whatever the season.”
The Messner advertising campaign says the scholarship program had no longer began but. “It became once a discretionary donation that predated the creation of the Foundation’s scholarship program,” a advertising campaign assertion acknowledged. “Corky believed the reward [to Colorado Academy] became once in step with the Foundation’s said mission to cultivate the next era of industrial and group leaders, and appropriate for a faculty-preparatory college that draws gifted student-athletes.”
But the 2014 internet page of the Messner Foundation, showing photographs of Dusky and Hispanic students, claimed: “The Messner Foundation identifies underprivileged high college students. … The Messner Foundation no longer most efficient helps its Students financially, but presents life experiences as effectively.”
Starting in 2015, the Messner Foundation began to raise cash by protecting raffles of luxurious autos. In an announcement pegged to the company’s 20th anniversary, the law company claimed it may possibly well well “raise most essential funds that can possibly well occupy an extended-lasting and measurable impact on the lives of students selected as Messner Students.”
Nonetheless it became once a dear proposition. The foundation in 2015 earned nearly $210,000 in raffle attach gross sales but had $113,000 in charges, including $84,000 for the price of the auto, a Tesla. It ended the year with $146,000 in resources — but soundless had offered no scholarships.
The advertising campaign, announcing “it took several years but to attain up with a sustainable funding provide and a route of stunning to candidates,” supplied to The Fact Checker a letter to the IRS in 2016 seeking recognition of the scholarship program and a letter showing IRS approval in 2017.
The Messner Foundation in 2016 prolonged its first scholarship: about $5,500 to Majarlika Diane Villaruel-Mariano, a neighborhood high college student who attended the University of Denver. That identical year, the foundation’s resources occupy been boosted by but another car raffle, this time for a $63,000 Jeep.
In 2017, Villaruel-Mariano became once given about $17,500 by the foundation.
In 2018, the foundation gave Villaruel-Mariano nearly $25,000. All told, she got about $48,000 over three years. No car raffles occupy been held by the foundation in 2017 or 2018, so with the leisure accessible tax filing, the foundation’s resources stood at about $148,000.
In numerous words, over the first 10 years, the foundation made grants to most efficient one student.
Villaruel-Mariano would no longer focus on about the scholarship or answer to emailed questions. “You’ll want to soundless focus on to them about that,” she acknowledged in a transient phone dialog. The Messner advertising campaign later supplied a quote from Villaruel-Mariano: “Attributable to the toughen from the Messner Foundation, I frequently is the first in my household to graduate with a faculty stage. … I am grateful to Mr. Messner for his toughen and guidance.”
Colorado high colleges listed the Messner Foundation as a probably provide of scholarships, so presumably the law company got functions from different students.
The Denver Scholarship Foundation, which promotes 500 different scholarships, at one time listed Messner as a doable provide of funds. “One student will probably be selected from the pool of candidates and should soundless occupy entry to funding for up to four years for undergraduate study,” the consciousness acknowledged. “Awards for subsequent years will probably be awarded in step with reapplication.”
But now the organization no longer lists Messner. “We removed it in 2018 as a result of we couldn’t overview that it became once soundless an active scholarship,” acknowledged Latia C. Henderson, director of advertising at the Denver Scholarship Foundation. “We purpose to most efficient encompass verified scholarships in our directory so it’s been removed for now.”
Unintentionally or no longer, the revival of the auto raffles in 2019 came correct as Messner became once pondering jumping into the Senate skedaddle. “He has spent a expansive deal of time and his occupy cash working with an military of consultants as he considers his future,” acknowledged a Would possibly possibly 28, 2019, email seeking monetary toughen for the Messner NH Exploratory Committee from one of his law company companions, Michelle Harden. The day after sending that email, Harden seemed in a tv interview with Villaruel-Mariano to tout the 2019 car raffle.
The Messner advertising campaign acknowledged Villaruel-Mariano has got extra funding from the foundation, no longer but shown in public tax filings, so her complete scholarship is ready $78,000. “Arnold Acosta is mainly the most stylish recipient, who has got $4,886 from 2019-20 and the Foundation intends to create extra toughen as his study continue, as we occupy now accomplished for the first recipient,” a advertising campaign assertion acknowledged. “A third student became once selected, but selected no longer to settle for the scholarship.” (The advertising campaign did now not provide the tax kinds that can possibly well overview these statements.)
Besides the preliminary $100,000 from the law company, essentially the most efficient different contributions listed in tax filings are from raffle gross sales that also promote the law company in the Denver space. But administration charges (primarily the price of autos that are raffled) are a predominant share of income. Over its lifetime, it price the Messner Foundation extra than $45 to raise $100, in step with the tax records. And correct 32 percent of charges became once spent on charitable programs.
“The automobile raffles occupy no longer generated the hoped-for income, given the expense of car purchases, covering the winners’ tax prison responsibility, and raffle promotion,” the advertising campaign assertion acknowledged.
The law company and Harden did now not answer to requests for comment.
“Corky believes in supporting and mentoring kids from various backgrounds pursuing varied careers. That’s why the Messner Foundation became once established in 2009 with a generous $100,000 donation from Messner-Reeves, LLC, of which Corky Messner is Founding Partner and CEO,” Michael Biundo, senior adviser for Messner for Senate Campaign, acknowledged in an emailed assertion. “Whereas the Foundation’s scholarship program that began in 2016 in all equity unique, it has already had a obvious impact on the lives of kids and has fulfilled its said reason, to apply the coed thru their training life cycle.”
The Pinocchio Test
Messner claims that the foundation selects powerful students for scholarships each year, that the goal of the foundation is to abet low-earnings students and that the foundation became once mainly funded by his occupy cash.
But in the first 10 years of the foundation’s existence, most efficient one student got a scholarship from Messner’s foundation — and even extra cash became once given to an elite non-public college that Messner’s sons occupy been attending at the time. The foundation became once in fact dormant after being founded, without reference to Messner’s claim 9 years up to now that scholarships would inaugurate. The law company is listed as the provision of the current $100,000, while tax kinds exhibit essentially the most efficient different funds occupy been raised with car raffles that, incidentally, also promote the law company. There are no records of non-public contributions from Messner, although, to make obvious, he’s the founding partner of the law company.
The advertising campaign now says that a 2nd student has begun to receive scholarship funds and that the scholarship program most efficient began in 2016. That may possibly well well be the case. But for years Messner and the foundation occupy suggested that many students had been the recipients of funds.