Bravo Denials Ring Hollow

State Fine Reduced, Not Dropped

BLYTHEWOOD – In several news articles published in The Voice during February and March of this year, it was reported that Bravo Blythewood, the cultural arts arm of the Town of Blythewood, was sent a notification of fine for $2,000 from the S.C. Secretary of State’s office on Jan. 1, for continuing failure to register with and file its financial information with the agency’s Public Charities Division. The arts group was told it had 15 days to register.

The group did not register until Feb.10, at which time, according to Shannon Wiley, Deputy General Counsel of the Secretary of State’s Office, Martha Jones, CEO of Bravo Blythewood, submitted a registration form but did not include the required financial report and Internal Revenue Form 990 EZ.

In an email to The Voice, Wiley said the agency would not waive the $2,000 fine entirely for late registration, but would reduce the fine to $200 for administrative costs if Jones forwarded the financial report (990 EZ) and the $200 fine to her attention, again, within 15 days.

In the minutes of the Feb. 17 meeting of the Blythewood Artists Guild that were forwarded, unsolicited, to The Voice by members, it was reported that Jones told the group that Bravo Blythewood had not been fined by the Secretary of State’s Office. In a letter published in the March 7 issue of The Voice, Bravo Blythewood vice president Buddy Price also refuted reports in The Voice that the group had been fined. Price stated that the group had not been fined by the Secretary of State’s Office. However, when his letter was forwarded to Wiley, she sent an email to The Voice stating that, “The organization did pay a fine of $200 for the late filing of the registration…”

On Feb. 12, Wiley told The Voice that no financial records had been filed with the Public Charities Division for Bravo Blythewood since it was incorporated as a non-profit on Aug. 3, 2011. Jones was CEO of the group since that time. While Bravo Blythewood was registered as a non-profit corporation with the business filing division, Wiley said because it solicits money and is funded by the town government, it must also be registered with the state’s Public Charities Division and file an annual financial report and an annual registration form.

According to the notice of fine dated Jan. 1, 2014, the $2,000 fine would have been dismissed entirely had the group filed the requested information in a timely manner, within 15 days.

Bravo Blythewood received $17,750 in funding from the town government’s Hospitality Taxes from Nov. 30, 2011 – Dec. 20, 2013.

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