Editor’s Note August 9, 2020: This article is now an ACJ Investigates series. For additional articles covering OUR, please go to ACJ Investigates- Derailed: Operation Underground Railroad
OUR raids & loots PPP funds created for struggling businesses in dire need
Despite having another stellar year fundraising through fearmongering, misleading donors with unsubstantiated claims, selling ‘individual spots’ for tens-of-thousands of dollars on the jump team so you too can help ‘fight human trafficking’ with millions of dollars of liquid cash and stocks in reserves, OUR decides it’s best to dip their greedy little troll hands into the PPP fund, designed for struggling small-to-midsized business owners in dire need to stay afloat. It was solely for businesses whose operations were halted or were severely hindered due to COVID-19 either directly or indirectly.
It wasn’t just ‘free money’ or in OUR’s case, a mass taxpayer donation so that Tim Ballard and his team can sit on the beaches of some tropical paradise for days on end either before or after a bust, usually both. All this while Mr. Ballard tells some people he stopped receiving a salary last year.
According to the Small Business Administration (SBA) in a report by KSL, Operation Underground Railroad received $150,000 to $350,000 in taxpayer dollars.
Operation Underground Railroad is an incredibly wealthy and well funded non-profit corporation that as of December 2018 obtained over $46 million in a span of 6 years by peddling outright false and misleading myths & claims about “human trafficking“. Law enforcement agencies, CIA, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, numerous studies have completely contradicted what Tim Ballard has alleged, still claims and his “cult-of-personality” organization peddles to this day. Unfortunately, by infiltrating a few smaller law enforcement agencies in the United States, simply providing a service by helping detectives lure and capture “internet sex predators” (basically what Chris Hansen did with Perverted Justice on MSNBC to their To Catch a Predator series that came out NBC’s pocket- not taxpayers’), it has given them the ability to claim their operations are “United States focused”. It has also somewhat legitimized them in the eyes of the general public, whose only understanding of “human trafficking” is Liam Neeson films.
Ninety-nine percent of the headlines are not true, Sex trafficking and prostitution are sort of used interchangeably. What about the headlines that say police are rescuing victims? By rescue they (mean) put them in jail and give them a criminal record. The victims are the sex workers…getting harassed and locked up in cages by the cops.–Reason Associate Editor Elizabeth Nolan Brown in an article by famed journalist John Stossel
“Disaster from the Start”… A Roland Emmerich Film
Millions of Americans are still out of work despite the rebound after the unemployment rate skyrocketed to 14.7% back in April. Of course in Washington, when we say “unemployed” they really mean those who filed for benefits and are receiving benefits. Behind the scenes lingo in Washington, is called the U-3- “Unemployment rate”. In reality, nearly a quarter of Americans were unemployed. The U-6. “real unemployment rate” was at 22.8% which is just over 18% in June.
From The Balance:
The U-3 is the rate most often reported in the media. In the U-3 rate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics only counts people without jobs who are in the labor force. To remain in the labor force, they must have looked for a job in the last four weeks. The U-6, or real unemployment rate, includes the underemployed, the marginally attached, and discouraged workers. For that reason, it is around double the U-3 report.https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-the-real-unemployment-rate-3306198
Sadly and sickly (no pun intended), about half the country either didn’t believe in, or take the coronavirus seriously. Our president knows everything, he is all knowing. Just like the Lord, Jesus Christ. Those that did believe it [coronavirus] was real, but didn’t take it seriously- were either convinced that ‘Divine Intervention’ would protect them, somehow shielding them from the virus- or just outright cure them. Unfortunately for most, this only could be accomplished through prayer packed inside an already cramped “house of worship”. Without masks, air conditioning and singing praises to the Lord, the curse of coronavirus, spread like it would around unmasked angry protesters.
Jesus after all, does love you- now put your money in the plate.
Which is why, believe it or not- even with COVID-19 and the economy in shambles (nearly a quarter of the nation unemployed or underemployed) non-profits and churches are doing phenomenal. Despite non-profits and churches receiving tithes, grants and donations- some doing substantially better than last year, they opted to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program believing they could be hit by “economic uncertainty”
In May, Congress along with a signature from president Trump passed the CARES Act which included the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), that was strictly designed to help small business employers facing “economic uncertainty” get their employees back to work. The 116th Congress backed unanimously by the Senate (hard to believe) made it clear in the language of the bill itself and it’s execution, “firms with at most 500 employees are eligible for the PPP funds. There are exceptions for all firms whose North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code starts with 72, which includes hotels and restaurants”. PPP funds would be issued through the SBA loan program through participating banks. Ultimately, the PPP loans issued will be fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities (due to likely high subscription, at least 60% of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll). If not and the businesses needed the money primarily for other expenses- PPP loans have an interest rate of just 1%.
The United States Treasury Department through the Small Business Administration (SBA) was to put in rules and guidelines not only in accepting applicants, but strict criteria to approve them. Instead, they allowed banks to issue loans how they see fit, regardless of risks involved, as the these loans were backed by the SBA and would repay the banks (with interest) out of the fund.
According the the SBA, “Companies are not required to report how many jobs they retain to take the loans, but they must do so within 24 weeks to qualify for the loan to become a free grant”
At first the guidelines were unclear, also; what exactly constitutes as “economic uncertainty”? Which is why many honest, hardworking small business owners didn’t apply for the SBA loan through their local banks.
Their fears were legitimate. This may explain why many folks have said over the years in what seems to have become an American Proverb, “nice guys finish last”. In short, what they feared was, that by accepting assistance now- it could later subject them to audits and investigations of alleged fraud, misuse, abuse or just honestly applying and then actually receiving funds but didn’t qualify. Since the bill on PPP loans wasn’t crystal clear, they knew the SBA, US Treasury Department and/or banks could issue rules days later. Then once the rules and guidelines were set, they could face criminal and civil liability.
“PPP was created to retain jobs,” SBA spokesman Jim Billimoria said in an email. “I can’t speculate on what borrowers used funds for.”
Jim Billimoria is absolutely correct- we certainly can’t speculate what borrowers like OUR used the funds for, but do know who needed the money and who didn’t.
That’s the problem.
To curb the worries of honest, hardworking business owners and their employees- the United States Treasury Department quickly released new guidelines regarding the SBA’s PPP loan forgiveness details, which also included a “safe harbor” from audits or penalties for businesses that received a loan under $2 million dollars.
Of course and as always- with the confusion that comes with and very broad language of a 300 page bill; corporations, multi-million and also billion dollar conglomerates had charities, subsidies, partnerships- whoever-so-obviously were under the direct umbrella (while legally separate entities, owned and operated by the very same executives) of the same holding companies, lobbyists, organizations and de facto partnerships; had already plundered the PPP fund.
We support ‘peaceful’ looting & pillaging, not protests (Corporate Welfare Queens and Media Diversion aka Real ‘fake’ news)
Once the new rules were in place, rather than pushing their luck- most bagged what they safely could, a cool $2 million. Others opted to hire lawyers & looked for loopholes to exploit loans and obtain maximum dollar amounts for their multi-millionaire and even multi-billionaire clients’ numerous subsidies and charities. All this theft, greed and cronyism under the ruse of “economic uncertainty”.
1) Reality Check#1: The Real “Fake” News
Obviously this begins with Coronavirus that rightwing media and the GOP- especially the president treated like some liberal hysteria. We had a new virus and since doctors had to make adjustments and advice as they learned more, this was enough to claim they are lying to “push a liberal agenda”. Today, new data shows that majority of republicans outright believed COVID-19 was an outright hoax, a mild flu or as bad as the flu, but regardless, nothing to wear masks, shut down businesses or church (despite data showing that is actually where the clusters had rapidly spread jumping among non-familial groups and regions).
Sadly, data complied by Harvard now shows that the White House, GOP and right-wing media’s attack on education, science and the medical establishment cost people their lives. Cost people their family members.
Instead, their focus was on something different entirely- protests and then all this looting… however, a different kind of looting that right-wing media didn’t talk about.
As the rightwing media collectively began politicizing the protests by screaming and fearmongering to those American people that are already fuming- assuring them, that they; because of their ‘values’ and views- are really the victim in of all this. They propagated that every single criminal, crime & murder that occurred within 150 miles of a city where a protest or Black Lives Matter (BLM) rally had been held in the past few months; was a product of Black Lives Matter (BLM) or “Antifa” who is now used interchangeably with BLM. Like OUR who uses prostitution and pornography with human trafficking and exploitation interchangeably. Unfortunately this was nothing but hysteria, grandstanding and outright fabrication.
Certainly if the pundits and GOP was more worried about “overreaction” over nothing, they’d realize that BLM and Antifa are not one and the same. Next, if they were honest about Portland and why Antifa is in Portland (Antifa has virtually little existence outside of Portland, other than select European countries), they’d tell their listeners and viewers that in the 90’s, Portland was a hotbed for right-wing hate groups. They had one of the largest presence of neo-Nazis in the world with over 300 different skinhead gangs. To combat the rise of right-wing violence, several different anti-fascist groups had been formed.
Just a few facts you need to know-
At no point has any of these drama queens produced a single instance, even just circumstantial evidence of Black Lives Matter leadership calling for members to arm themselves with AR-15s and to “storm the state capitols over something petty as facemask mandates” especially in public places like businesses or crowded venues. Wait… Wait… Let’s raise the stakes. There wasn’t a single instance to date where Black Lives Matter leadership or bonafide members called for violence and looting. Yet, very angry Americans “on the brink” get a daily monologue from Tucker Carlson about all this violence coming from BLM. They’re pushing Uncle Joe too far. He had to wear a mask and worse BLM had protested within 200 miles of he and Aunt Karen’s house. Stop treadin’ on him!
It’s too much. This is not the America he envisioned. Now don’t get Uncle Joe wrong, he knows changes will come, however, changes are supposed to be slow. After all, none of these black people today know what slavery is. They never been slaves and nobody alive owned them.
Well, Uncle Joe hasn’t been listening to TheBlaze like he’s supposed too. Glenn Beck and Tim Ballard would have let them know about all the white suburban girls that’s been enslaved.
See there are more things Uncle Joe can be mad at “shit hole countries” for.
Make no mistake folks, OUR knows exactly what they are marketing and to whom.
Now all that aside just for a moment, let’s just imagine if members of BLM actually showed up at any state capitol with AR-15s making sure their voices were heard by shouting in police officers faces. Let’s pretend they survive and not all of them are not in jail afterwards. Can you just imagine the framing and the “they are animals” and “they are uncivilized” monologues we’d hear from Carlson for the next six months. You know Tucker, Hannity and Limbaugh won’t be calling them Patriots, despite Tucker saying at one point that he’d call “any man a patriot” who took up arms to his government for his beliefs… Even if he doesn’t agree with him.
Yeah, I don’t see that happening.
While right-winger’s heads were exploding over all this looting and black people wanting more freedom, like to not have to worry about getting killed by police… ya know all these lies cause rural Iowa knows what’s really going on in cities and suburbs across America, real fake news ended up costing their people’s lives playing games, posturing themselves.
Riling up the base. There is a reason why. People who self-identify as republican and those especially who identify as conservative on average consume 4 and a half hours a day of right-wing media (talk radio, YouTube videos and TV). It showed.
Politicizing viruses, storming capital buildings with AR-15s and scream in the faces of law enforcement, calling them filthy names- all over “rights” and “face masks”. Sending the message to their children, your children, our children that they are ready to kill over facemasks in the midst of a pandemic.
Yet, when a black teen is shot and killed by police, they want to say “all lives matter” and “back the badge”. Typical pandering and miscaptioning that diverts our attention from the real issue.
Last but not least- the last death linked to “Antifa” was a murder in 1993, when a racist skinhead named Eric Banks was shot dead by John Bair, a member of Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice. Remember that whole issue about skinheads in Portland? One has to wonder with all this violence, shooting of police and innocent people, burning of buildings, beatings, etc… why hasn’t a single person been killed by Antifa?
Truth is, Antifa’s only significant presence is in Portland, over the Neo-Nazi issue. Sadly, majority of the violence has little to do with protests or it’s organizers. In fact, a large percentage of the vandalism and beatings are linked to right-wing hate groups. This is no surprise, before George Floyd’s murder, the Proud Boys and Andy Ngo made it their mission to provoke , instigate and attack people, they turn on the camera after it begins to unfold with some caption like “Antifa attacks peaceful Trump supporter”. Why is nobody on the right up-in-arms about being lied too, when it’s cost them their lives and not given them the opportunity to focus on the real issues at hand? Because they are being spoon fed what they want to hear and see.
When was the last time you went to a party, a friend’s house or were at work and a hardcore democrat or better, a radical leftist began asking you “Did you watch Rachel Maddow yesterday man? Did you watch that clip by David Pakman? or did you watch that redneck, Beau of the Fifth Column on guns?”
Honestly, most people don’t really care about politics. Not like much really changes when you do. Look, last election almost half of registered voters didn’t even vote. Yet we are to believe all media personalities (when overwhelming majority of media companies are owned by republicans through stock holdings and hedge funds whose managers are almost exclusively active members in the party itself). We are also to believe all doctors, scientists, etc.. are all card carrying members to the “satanic pedophile cabal”.
If you’re honest, probably nobody. What I do run into every single day, is some devout hardcore right-winger, be it at a gas station, at work or a neighbor outside telling me to watch some Tucker Carlson clip or inform me of what is going on with BLM and Antifa.
The funny and sad thing is this, cause I’m sure half the people reading this will claim “the media is Fake news”. Fox News channels highest rated shows by far, is both Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity. For all those crying that “journalists aren’t like they used to be”, what happened to old school journalists like Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings, Dan Rather (although he’s on the shit list now) and none other than Ted Koppel?
Yet, Hannity in a 2017 interview with Koppel admits, “you have to give some credit to the American people that they are somewhat intelligent and that they know the difference between an opinion show and a news show”
Koppel really has no words and is just shaking his head, says “Yeah…. yeah…”
Hannity says, “Look, you’re cynical, look that (he says smirking)… You think we’re bad for America?… You think I’m bad for America?
Koppel replies, “Yeah. I do”. Koppel goes onto to say in simple terms after some snickering, “you have attracted people who are determined that ideology is more important than facts“.
That is 100% absolute fact, and there is no way around it. As our series progresses as more is revealed about OUR you will begin to see why OUR markets itself to that same people, those same people “who are determined that ideology is more important than fact”.
Koppel’s interview with Hannity is more relevant today than ever.
2) The Usual Suspects: Welfare Queens- Looting and Plundering (we have no reason to believe anything is out of the ordinary)
As many people on the right were obsessed with looting, arson and murder rates, billionaires and millionaires are looting funds of their own.
For those confused, uncertain, surprised or just plain in denial because this is far too complex to understand, let’s look at other examples in just how easy the system is to exploit (designed this way for a reason), how corrupt it is and just how companies and non-profits justify their looting and plundering- while blaming others of it in the media.
On the surface OUR appears to be the standard run-of-the-mill “anti” human trafficking scheme we’ve all seen before when it was huge in evangelist circles until the fraudster and crook Solamy Mam took over and became the face of it.
In an article by ProPublica, it was revealed that billionaire- West Virgina Governor Jim Justice received up to $24 million in PPP funds.
“The Greenbrier Hotel Corporation, Justice’s firm that owns and operates the iconic luxury resort, received a loan of between $5 million and $10 million….
….In all, Justice companies received between $11.2 million and $24.4 million in PPP money. The Greenbrier Sporting Club, a Justice company that runs an upscale residential development adjacent to the hotel, received between $1 million and $2 million“
Blackstone Energy LTD and Bluestone Coke LLC, two coal companies owned by Justice’s family, each received $2 million to $5 million. Ranger Fuel Coal Corp. received $1 million to $2 million. Justice Energy Company Inc. received $150,000 to $350,000.-Ken Ward Jr. in his article with ProPublica
According to Forbes, Jim Justice is worth over $1.2 Billion and the wealthiest man in West Virginia. Despite getting up to $24 million in taxpayer dollars in a program designed to help employers and employees of small businesses, Governor Justice refused to commit to whether or not he saving his employees’ jobs.
At first it was easy to say that these people just “don’t get it” and they’re “out of touch”. No, we’ve had it all wrong for decades. At least since Reagan administration. They don’t care. The very people that author and are behind these bills have signed pledges, some while still in college a year or two before their completion. Already committed to a high paying job before having obtained a minute of experience in the workforce, much less as a lawmaker.
Legitimate business owners who live day to day or week to week, maybe if they are lucky… month to month- the money was plundered by millionaires and billionaires including government officials like Governor Justice. They didn’t need the money nor was some of their businesses even in distress. Even if he is honest and doesn’t commit the required 60% to employees to get the PPP loan forgiven; he essentially took money and food from the hands and mouths of small business owners, their families and children just to obtain a loan for a 1% interest rate.
Ultimately the fund use clearly was being being overrun with fraud and abuse by those who already have money.
Operation Underground Railroad and Governor Justice weren’t the only ones either.
CNBC reported that Yeezy LLC, the apparel brand owned by Kanye West or “Ye”, took a loan for up to $5 million. The company has been estimated to be worth $3 billion. As did the Church of Scientology, despite having accumulated wealth into the billions-of-dollars. Several of their subsidies and charities took out PPP loans.
Like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Church of Scientology is a non-profit and doesn’t pay taxes. Still, they’ll gladly take welfare anyway they can get it, when they are unaffected by the economy.
Billionaire Joe Farrell, superstar developer who builds mega-mansions in the Hamptons, received a PPP loan of up to $1 million. Farrell made headlines in May when he fled NYC over coronavirus concerns and rented “The Sandcastle”; a megamansion for nearly $2 million for the summer.
There are so many others, but now let’s look at the “difference” when a rich man pillages and a poor man.
3) No Money for Poor Men
Let’s me very be clear, cash was easy to obtain. Even the poor and lower middle class decided to get in on the action, of course with much different consequences. Rather than getting stuck with a 1% loan, they were indicted for fraud
Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta star Maurice Fayne, 37, aka “Arkansas Mo”, obtained a $2,045,800 PPP loan through United Community Bank (UCB) in Atlanta, Georgia. He initially sought $3,725,500 for Flame Trucking, which he is the sole owner. “Arkansas Mo” claimed that Flame Trucking had 107 employees and an average monthly payroll of $1,490,200.
The only problem was- it just simply wasn’t true. He had a total of three trucks and three employees- one not even full-time.
Maurice Fayne was subsequently charged and arrested on federal bank fraud charges by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
According to U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Byung J. “BJay” Pak:
Within days, Fayne allegedly used more than $1.5 million of the PPP loan proceeds to purchase $85,000 in jewelry, including a Rolex Presidential watch, a diamond bracelet, and a 5.73 carat diamond ring for himself, to lease a 2019 Rolls Royce Wraith, to make loan payments, and to pay $40,000 for child support. Such payments are not an authorized use of PPP funds under the CARES Act.-US Attorney Pak
Unfortunately for Maurice Fayne, he had just missed the $2 million “safe harbor” cut off. Arkansas Mo’ wasn’t the only one.
Yesterday, David T. Hines, 29, of Miami, Florida, appeared before U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge John J. O’Sullivan in the Southern District of Florida. The indictment unsealed upon his appearance charges Hines with one count of bank fraud, one count of making false statements to a financial institution and one count of engaging in transactions in unlawful proceeds.
The complaint alleges that Hines “sought approximately $13.5 million in PPP loans through applications to an insured financial institution on behalf of different companies” and was later “funded approximately $3.9 million in loans.”
“…within day of receiving the PPP funds, Hines purchased a 2020 Lamborghini Huracan sports car for approximately $318,000, which he registered jointly in his name and the name of one of his companies. In the days and weeks following the disbursement of PPP funds, the complaint alleges that Hines did not make payroll payments that he claimed on his loan applications. He did, however, make purchases at luxury retailers and resorts in Miami Beach.”Criminal Complaint against David T. Hines
4) Back in the High Life Again
Operation Underground Railroad legally is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. By their accounting, over 99% of their income is from private donations. In any circumstance, no matter what the non-profit is, or mission that it serves or purpose- when they see a slow down in donations or the money stops, as old school mobsters say “that’s that”.
When people don’t donate to non-profits for good reason, bad or inability, there is no reason. The government doesn’t bail these organizations out. If you receive less grants and donations, then either you trim the fat, cut expenses or provide less “services or contribution to the American public”. Certainly and hopefully, the tax-free cash they have in reserves, tax free investments paid for by donors and last but not least, the nearly $1 million that the five officers and founder earned back in 2018, on wards from OUR would also get trimmed.
Absolutely not. Tim Ballard, Jonathan Lines and Operation Underground Railroad have collectively been defiant and under no circumstance are they willing to be transparent, honest or even answer legitimate questions. It is clear, that as long as Tim Ballard and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, has a personal and business relationship, OUR can act with impunity while fear-mongering and pandering to suburbia and right-wing political pundits the 21st century ‘s version of “white slavery”.
OUR is supposed to file it’s 2019 Form 990 next month (August 2020). Looking at their 2018 IRS Form 990, they claim a total of 10 employees of which five are full-time averaging 40 hours per week and the other five directors, all volunteers, work between 1 and 10 hours per week.
In 2018, the founder and officers of OUR were paid-
Tim Ballard, Founder- $343,022
Jerry Gowen, CEO- $184,062
Tevya Ware, CFO- $104,600
Jonathan Lines, COO- $159,474
Matthew Osborne, Director of Special Projects- $133,000
Operation Underground Railroad is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit with 38 employees (according to their most recent 990 filing) and over 8,000 (claimed) volunteers. After paying their five officers and founder a total compensation package (not including first class airfare, finest hotels donors can buy, food, limousines, etc..) of $924,158 their 38 employees (both part and full-time) were compensated $1,131,671. Distributed evenly, that would be $29,780.81. Obviously, the vast majority are part time, usually translators and such.
This compensation of which 99% come from private donors, many who pay $30,000 on upwards to take part in an OUR “jump team” sting in a foreign nation (talking filthy to prostitutes about sex with children and get to rough up the bad guys afterwards. live like a playboy playing James Bond dabbling in hedonism… but it’s for the ‘kids’), which means there is little to no benefit to the United States which is a condition of their tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.
OUR’s Lack of Transparency – They answer to a higher authority
The moment legitimate questions come up that is not OUR fantasy and propaganda, if you contact Operation Underground Railroad for comment or say something publicly, the unleash their devotees. or like a victim and multiple witness of Jonathan Lines misogynistic, unethical behavior and harassment It is the same tactics, statistics, and “stories” used during the “Stranger Danger” era of the 1980’s- when Americans were exploited through fear and deception about the inevitability of their child being abducted and murdered. We can only remember Michelle Remembers the story that essentially transitioned us from stranger danger to satanic panic of the 90’s.
To date, there is no independent study, foreign governments OUR claims to “partner with” or data released that has shown these women and children have been liberated. In fact, they are likely worse off.
Since OUR refuse to release any of their information and financials to the public and their donors, we are simply left to take “Tim Ballard’s word for it”.
There is no record that Operation Underground Railroad received considerably less donations for the year. In fact, there is no doubt that OUR has earned more money in 2019 than 2018 and quite possibly significantly more so far in 2020.
Of course, Operation Underground Railroad or perhaps it’s head cheerleader Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes could clear this up for the public.
Regardless, OUR is a non-profit that majority of it’s effort and exploitation of the “Human Trafficking” craze is bankrolled by private donors.
Why are they applying for taxpayer dollars to fund operations in foreign nations?
Why? What are classified as non-profits are mostly churches, charities, religious services or a private firm that supplies scientific, research, sports entertainment or other services for the American public.
The problem with non-profits is simple;
Tax exemption also provides limited protection from lawsuits. A charitable organization usually incorporates before seeking tax exemption, so lawsuits can only apply to its corporate assets. Staff and board members enjoy legal protection, although that protection might not cover all situations.https://www.thebalancesmb.com/what-is-a-501-c-3-tax-exempt-organization-how-do-we-apply-2502154