Two congresswomen are asking the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.’s tax-exempt status. Their letter to IRS commissioner Charles Rettig comes after several investigations into the practices of the organization that hands out the Golden Globes.
“For more than a year, entertainment and national media outlets have detailed the seemingly corrupt and unacceptable deal making patterns of HFPA raising questions whether the organization solely responsible for awarding the once coveted Golden Globe Award is meeting its IRS section 501(C)(3) demands,” reads the letter sent Monday from Rep. Joyce Beatty (D–Ohio), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Brenda L. Lawrence (D–Mich.), who is vice chair of the House Committee on Appropriations.
The HFPA responded to the letter calling for an investigation, and said in a statement, “The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is extremely disappointed to have read about the concerns from Representatives Beatty and Lawrence in the media. 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.”
The letter from the congresswomen continued, “To add insult to injury, The Wrap, the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, USA Today, Variety and CNN have all pointed to HFPA’s failure to embrace robust diversity and inclusion practices that we are now see being implemented in Hollywood and across all business and government sectors.”
The HFPA’s response countered, “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.”
The letter said the congresswomen believe “at a minimum, HFPA’s current leadership has colluded to benefit themselves, either director or indirectly, and therefore violated the IRS statute” that says a nonprofit organization must not benefit a private individual.
A series of investigations in the Los Angeles Times starting in February 2021 found that the organization had no Black members and engaged in questionable business practices, such as paying members up to $2 million a year for serving on committees. The investigations spurred a group of influential publicists and studios, including Netflix and Amazon, to boycott the HFPA, which in turn led to NBC taking the show off the air for 2022. The awards were instead handed out in a small, non-televised ceremony.
The HFPA has said that all committee payments are in accordance with IRS rules and that it has completely overhauled its bylaws and practices, including admitting 21 new members over the past year and instituting new rules on gifts and travel.