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HFPA ‘Extremely Disappointed’ in Call for IRS Investigation by Congressional Black Caucus Members

Golden Globes group says it has reached out to Reps. Joyce Beatty and Brenda L. Lawrence to ”discuss their concerns“

The HFPA said on Tuesday that it was “extremely disappointed” to learn that two members from the Congressional Black Caucus have written the IRS demanding an investigation into the Golden Globes organization’s tax exempt status.

The HFPA via a spokesperson said that though they had not been contacted with a letter or any other forms of communication, they have reached out to the offices of U.S. Reps. Joyce Beatty and Brenda L. Lawrence to go over their concerns expressed in the letter first obtained exclusively by TheWrap on Monday.

“The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is extremely disappointed to have read about the concerns from Representatives Beatty and Lawrence in the media,” the group said in a statement. “Though the Association still hasn’t received any letter or other forms of communication, it has reached out to their offices to discuss their concerns, provide answers to their questions, and make them aware of the significant changes and reforms the Association has already undertaken. Unfortunately, it seems their letter is taken largely from previous news accounts that have misrepresented or omitted the significant and thorough progress made in bringing on diverse members at all levels and the imposition of strict new guidelines banning all gifts and implementation new ethics and conduct rules. We look forward to the opportunity to sharing our progress with the Representatives and their staff soon.”

On Monday, Beatty (D – Ohio), who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, and Lawrence (D – Michigan), who is Vice Chair of the House Committee on Appropriations and also a leader in the CBC, wrote to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig in a letter dated March 7. The two reacted to reporting in a Wrap investigation last month about the HFPA’s “seemingly corrupt and unacceptable deal making patterns” and whether the group was “meeting its IRS section 501(C)(3) demands.”

“We believe at minimum, HFPA’s current leadership has colluded to benefit themselves, either directly or indirectly and therefore violated the IRS statute,” which bars the organization from operating for the benefit of private interests.

According to its tax returns, the HFPA is a 501(c)(6), which is similar to a 501(c)(3) in terms of being exempt from taxes but is generally used for groups such as trade associations that promote the common business of its members.

The Hollywood Foreign Press has been under intense scrutiny for the past year, after a Los Angeles Times investigation accused the group of self-dealing and pointed out that it had no Black members at all. Amid widespread criticism, the HFPA pledged to adopt major reforms, and the organization now insists it has gone a long way to addressing the issues raised in the aftermath of the L.A. Times exposé and the publicists’ boycott. 

“The 2021 class of members is the most diverse in its history with six new Black members, 10 women, six who identify as Latinx, five Asian and four of Middle Eastern/North African descent,” the organization said in a prior statement — though that group of new members fell short of the HFPA’s pledge last March to add at least 13 black members, reflective of the 13% Black U.S. population.

The HFPA also noted it hired Neil Phillips as the organization’s new chief of diversity as well as engaged in outreach to journalism organizations including the National Association of Black Journalists.

Nonetheless, as TheWrap reported last month, the publicist boycott has persisted, and NBC — which canceled this year’s Golden Globes telecast — has remained silent as to whether it will bring the award ceremony back to television.

Read the full Congressional letter here.

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