Imagine that you are a proselytizing, woman hating, obliquely racist, Bob Wills-wannabe of a state Senator. In your prior campaign, you used a P.O. Box associated with your home in Bigelow.
Now you are running for reelection and, because a large number of Arkansans have not yet figured out that donating money to you is the logical finale to the Bad Idea Jeans skit, you have to figure out which address you want to use to accept money this time around. Your options are:
1. The same P.O. Box you used last time, since that would be the address previous donors know and would require the least amount of changing/editing websites, campaign materials, etc.
2. Your business address, which you already refer to as your District Office, and which has the added bonus of being a brick-and-mortar place where someone could come drop off a check, talk to you about issues, and ask for signs or to volunteer.
3. A P.O. Box that has been associated with your 501(c)(3) non-profit for years and has had no previous connection to your campaign.
If you are like most people, I’m guessing you would choose one of the first two options. After all, the third option is just begging for questions to be asked, considering 501(c)(3) religious non-profits are absolutely prohibited from engaging in political activities, right?
But, then, Jason Rapert is not like most other people. So, for whatever reason, he decided that Option 3 was the way to go in 2012.
That’s a screenshot from his 2012 Rapert for Senate campaign page. The address also shows up as his contact address on the Arkansas General Assembly website. That address also just happens to be the address for donations to Rapert’s chairty, Holy Ghost Ministries.
On its face, maybe that’s not a huge deal, despite being a little odd. But dig a little further — say by looking through every single campaign-related filing that Jason Rapert made for the 2012 election — and you’ll see that nowhere in his expenses is there a charge for the P.O. Box. Which makes sense when you realize that Holy Ghost Ministries has been using that P.O. Box at least as far back as 2008, which we can see through the wonders of the Internet Wayback Machine.
So…drawing a logic conclusion here, I think it’s safe to say that Holy Ghost Ministries paid, and continues to pay, for the P.O. Box that Jason Rapert uses for his campaigning. That’s not good.
You know what else isn’t good? There is so much overlap between Jason Rapert, politician, and Jason Rapert, fiddle-playin’ proselytizer, that the same phone number, (501) 472-2794, appears both as his legislative contact number according to Capsearch and Smart Voter and as the contact number for Holy Ghost Ministries according to HotFrog. If you go to Holy Ghost Ministries’ website today, the phone number does not appear.
However, again thanks to the Wayback Machine, we can see that it did appear previously.
And, while he’s removed the link that would give you information about his band, the page still exists and contains that same phone number. Curious that he would remove mention of the phone number. . . .
Between the overlap of the phone number and the strange decision to use the non-profit’s P.O. Box, one might get the impression — if one were so inclined — that Jason Rapert isn’t exactly being above board when it comes to his non-profit. Such an impression might then be bolstered if one were to look at the 990s filed by Holy Ghost Ministries (see 2009, 2010, 2011), where a large, unitemized line item for “Ministry Expense” takes up nearly all of the non-profit’s income in a given year, regardless of whether they bring in less than $30,000 or more than $70,000.
While this kind of line-item entry is (sadly) legal, with the entanglement in other areas between Rapert’s non-profit and his other activities, you would be forgiven if the line item caused you to raise an eyebrow generally.