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September 30, 2010 at 5:52 am #19108
Invisible Children falsely lobbied Congress law on LRA crackdown
Wednesday, 29 September 2010
By Michael Kirkpatrick
I have travelled frequently to Uganda since 1998. In 2007 I had the privilege of travelling extensively through the northern part of Uganda and visited the town of Gulu and several Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.
I am an independent global citizen that does not represent any charity, church, NGO, or government. I have partnered with my Ugandan friends to help the underprivileged and vulnerable people in their villages and communities.
I appreciate the work that that many charities and non-governmental organisations are doing to raise awareness and advocate peace in the northern part of Uganda. Through the efforts of many of these people, the world and its leaders are aware of the horrible 21-year war in the northern part of Uganda, The Lord’s Resistance Army, Joseph Kony, and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
Recently there has been increased focus on issues in the northern part of Uganda thanks to the grassroots efforts of Invisible Children. The organisation has utilised its marketing prowess and creativity to capture the hearts and minds of thousands of students and young adults. Invisible Children and its supporters have worked tirelessly to help create and lobby the recently passed “LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act”.
You may think that I would welcome the passage of this bill as a beacon of hope for my friends in northern Uganda. I am not supporter of this bill. The bill opens the door for the American military to legally militarise Uganda in the name of humanitarian efforts.
It legitimises the mission of AFRICOM on the continent and gives military forces a home base in Africa to continue the “global battle on terrorism,” combat the growing presence of China, and defend American interests regarding natural resources.
To gain support for this bill, Invisible Children propagated misinformation to its idealistic followers. The battle cry to pass this bill was “to end the longest running war in Africa”.
They conveniently combined multiple regional conflicts into one lump statement. The region of northern Uganda has been free of LRA rebel activity for over five years now. There is now peace and rebuilding going on. When I confronted the administration of Invisible Children about this information, they stated in an email:
“I agree with you that leading people to believe that the war is still happening in Uganda is not ethically right. It’s something we’ve been addressing internally, focusing on getting all staff and supporters on the same page in regards to the language they use in their communications.”
I have been aware of Invisible Children since its inception. I admire their ability to mobilise passionate people and raise awareness about injustices in the world. I have often disagreed with their strategies but chose to focus on the work of my Ugandan friends inside Uganda. The recent passage of the “LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act” has forced me to speak up.
I believe that Invisible Children as a tax-exempt organisation has violated provisions of the US Internal Revenue Service when it comes to political activism and lobbying activity. The organisation has been deeply involved with the recent passage of the “LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act”.
Their website proclaims “We Did It!” and is full of information about the organisation’s direct involvement in Congressional legislation. They have also posted many videos on YouTube proclaiming their personal mission to have Joseph Kony arrested: http://www.InvisibleChildren.com,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qn8D3zjVDA0
In an email from Andrew Morgan, Invisible Children’s Communications Officer in Uganda, he stated:
“We needed the bill to pass (and spent donor money trying to ensure that it did) because Joseph Kony’s capture is crucial to the recovery of northern Uganda.”
Federal law prohibits political lobbying and activity by organizations that have a tax-exempt 501(c)3 status. Invisible Children, Inc. should be audited by the IRS or voluntarily surrender their tax-exempt status.
I am not anti-Invisible Children. I am not pro-LRA. I am pro-truth. Propaganda and misinformation does not help develop solutions to global challenges. It only exacerbates the problems. Invisible Children needs to respect the law that they so valiantly expect others to follow.
The US Internal Revenue Service Rules 501(c)3 state: “In general, no organisation may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying). A 501(c)(3) organisation may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.
Legislation includes action by Congress, any state legislature, any local council, or similar governing body, with respect to acts, bills, resolutions, or similar items (such as legislative confirmation of appointive office), or by the public in referendum, ballot initiative, constitutional amendment, or similar procedure. It does not include actions by executive, judicial, or administrative bodies.
An organisation will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation.
Organisations may, however, involve themselves in issues of public policy without the activity being considered as lobbying. For example, organisations may conduct educational meetings, prepare and distribute educational materials or otherwise consider public policy issues in an educational manner without jeopardising their tax-exempt status.”
The author is an American who has made frequent trips to Uganda. In Acholi he was given the adoptive name Otim MichaelSeptember 30, 2010 at 5:58 am #27095
written by Michael Kirkpatrick, September 30, 2010
If people believe that the United States government and organizations like Invisible Children and Resolve Uganda have the interests of Ugandans as their primary motives, then they are being very naive. They are serving their own interests which involve political and economic agendas.
“Toxic Mix: Agenda Driven Philanthropy, Secrecy, United States Foreign Policy, and African Tyranny “
http://www.blackstarnews.com/n…09-15.htmlSeptember 30, 2010 at 6:02 am #27096
Toxic Mix: Agenda Driven “Philanthropy,” Secrecy, U.S. Policy, And African Tyranny
By Michael Kirkpatrick
September 15th, 2010
Founders of Invisible Children with Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled Uganda since 1986.
In May 2010, the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act was passed by Congress and President Obama promised to enact this country’s first-ever legalized pursuit of a foreign rebel army, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and capture its leader, Joseph Kony.
The bill also states that it will help rebuild the northern part of Uganda. The region was devastated by a 20 year war that mostly affected innocent civilians and children. Fortunately there has been an absence of rebel activity by the LRA for over five years and peace and stability has returned to the region. Joseph Kony and his pathetic group of rebel forces have been expelled from Uganda and now roam throughout remote parts of eastern Congo, the Central African Republic, and southern Sudan.
Two American organizations have led the efforts to get the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act passed by Congress. Invisible Children and Resolve Uganda rallied their passionate young supporters to lobby Congress to ensure the successful passage of the bill.
I’ve done my part in helping children and communities in Uganda as a concerned global citizen. My involvement has been entirely personal and voluntary. I partner with my Ugandan friends who are stakeholders in the future of their country. I have traveled to Uganda many times since 1998. In 2007, I had the privilege of traveling extensively through the northern part of Uganda and visited the city of Gulu and several Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.
I have previously written for this publication about Invisible Children and the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. “How Invisible Children Falsely Marketed the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act” http://www.blackstarnews.com/news/122/ARTICLE/6586/2010-06-02.html
Resolve Uganda is now scheduling meetings with every United States Senator to discuss the implementation of the bill and to gain more support. The meetings are being referred to as “From Promise to Peace”. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there is an upcoming meeting scheduled with one of the Senators from my home state of Texas, Senator John Cornyn (R). The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at the senator’s local office in Dallas, which is close to my home.
I am very interested in learning about how this bill will improve the quality of life for my Acholi friends in the northern part of Uganda. I registered online to express my intention to attend the meeting. Soon after registering, I received a Facebook message from Lisa Dougan the Director of Communications for Resolve Uganda. She made it very clear that I’m not welcome to the meeting. We exchanged messages that I have provided below.
To help me understand why I was being prohibited from attending this meeting, I decided to call Lisa Dougan at her Resolve Uganda office in Washington DC. During our conversation she reiterated that I would not be welcomed to the meeting and she highly recommended that I make no attempt to visit the Senator’s office during the meeting.
I find it peculiar that a lobbying group based in Washington DC is so adamant about preventing me from attending a 30 minute meeting at the local office of my Senator. There is a pattern of secrecy and censorship that Resolve Uganda and Invisible Children are engaging themselves.
The LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act seems to be more about politics and United States foreign policy in Africa than about helping the victims of war in the northern part of Uganda. I believe that the bill is about legitimizing and legalizing an American military presence in Uganda to continue the global battle on terrorism, combating the growing presence of China in Africa, and defending American interests regarding natural resources, like oil and minerals. There is also a lot of money earmarked for this bill that will be distributed to unnamed groups and organizations.
The following is the written correspondence between Lisa Dougan and me.
Lisa Dougan (September 14 at 11:50am)
I have become of your efforts to join the Promise to Peace Lobby meeting in Dallas, TX. I have also seen the things you have posted on the Facebook event for that meeting. Let me be very clear: 1. These meetings are part of a RESOLVE campaign and are not connected to or organized by Invisible Children. Any postings you make on the event page to discredit or criticize Invisible Children are irrelevant and unnecessary. I have deleted them and will continue to delete anything you post of similar nature. 2. We both know that you are in no way supportive of the legislation or the policy objectives that will be promoted in this meeting. It is abundantly clear that your efforts to attend are not motivated by a desire to support the policy asks that will be made. As the coordinating organization of this campaign, we do not permit you to attend this meeting on the grounds that you in no way seek to advance the policy goals that this lobby meeting is specifically intended to promote. I will make it very clear to the leaders of the Promise to Peace lobby meeting and the Congressional staff who will be attending, that you were asked not to attend.
If you are interested in sharing your views on this or related issues with your Member of Congress, you are more than welcome to schedule and attend your own lobby meeting. That is your right and privilege as a US citizen.
Thank you Lisa
Michael Kirkpatrick (September 14 at 12:40pm)
Let me understand. Resolve Uganda and Invisible Children were allowed to harass and pester Senators by calling and camping outside their offices for days. “Activists” were fine with calling Senators things like “Dr No”. This was acceptable. However I am not allowed to attend a meeting? Interesting. So dissent is permitted as long as you get what you want? Why don’t you want people to be educated about the issues? Your political career is off to a great start.
Lisa Dougan (September 14 at 12:51pm)
Michael, Our efforts to influence our Members of Congress and other political leaders has been done through the hard work and coordination of our own events and meetings. And everyone who participated in those events and meetings did so because they shared the views and desire to achieve the objectives therein. We never inserted ourselves into the activities/events of other organizations or groups, especially if we are in DIRECT OPPOSITION to their goals.
I encourage you to coordinate your own meeting with your Members of Congress. You could even go so far as to plan your own public event(s) so more people can be “educated” by you. But to try to disingenuously join a constituent meeting with an objective that you in no way support or agree with is dishonest, lazy, and very much lacking in integrity. You are not permitted to attend this meeting. I will not discuss this any further.
Thank you, Lisa Resolve Uganda
“Speaking Truth To Empower.”
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