Washington, D.C. – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service, the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate urging an investigation into whether the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region (ANCA-WR) and the ANCA Endowment Fund violated their status as charitable organizations, the Foreign Agents Registration Act and the Lobbying Disclosure Act.
Both ANCA-WR and the ANCA Endowment Fund, which share offices and a common website, have participated in political campaigns in violation of federal tax law, which specifically bars groups organized under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code from participating in political campaigns. Nevertheless, on October 24, 2008, ANCA announced its endorsements of 15 candidates for the United States Senate and 211 candidates for the United States House of Representatives and published these endorsements on its shared website with ANCA-WR: www.anca.org. ANCA also endorsed the Obama-Biden ticket for the presidency.
The Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”) requires agents of foreign political parties to register with the Department of Justice, periodically report and describe their activities aimed at influencing policies of the United States and to disclose the dissemination of information, including testimony before Congress.
ANCA is closely associated with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), a self-described political party, which is part of the ruling coalition government in the Republic of Armenia. In 2005, the then-Chairman of the Central Committee of the ARF for the Eastern Region of the United States explained that the ARF’s political efforts are conducted through the ANCA offices in Washington. In 2006, the U.S. embassy in Yerevan prepared a study on the Armenian-American community and found, “the ARF’s U.S.-based political advocacy arm is the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). ANCA is the principal political spokesperson for ARF policies in the United States.” Nevertheless, ANCA has never registered under FARA nor followed its disclosure requirements.
The Lobbying Disclosure Act requires lobbyists to file disclosure reports with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House. In fact, ANCA publicly has claimed to lobby on several occasions, taking credit for persuading nine members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to push the nominee for ambassador to Armenia to clarify U.S. policy on the Armenian genocide debate, persuading lawmakers to block U.S. financing for a railway that would have linked Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan, but not Armenia, and seeking passage of 1992 legislation excluding Azerbaijan from a list of former Soviet republics available for U.S. aid.
Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director said, “The evidence demonstrates that ANCA has failed to comply with federal tax laws, foreign registration laws and lobbying rules. While ANCA has legitimate interests in U.S. policies, it must be held to the same standard as other organizations that participate in American political policy debates. Therefore, CREW urges the Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service, the Secretary of the Senate, and the Clerk of the House to open investigations into possible wrongdoing by ANCA.”