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Lumaj gave campaign funds to a charity based in his law office

October 9, 2018

Peter Lumaj, a failed 2018 Republican candidate for governor, donated $50,000 in surplus campaign funds to a charity that is not approved by the IRS and may not even exist, campaign finance reports show.

The not-for-profit, Albanian Connect Inc, shares same Bronx address as Lumaj’s immigration law firm, state of New York Division of Corporations records show.

The donation was made in July, two months after the Internal Revenue Service revoked the organization’s tax exempt status for never filing taxes.

Albanian Connect Inc. does not have a website, phone number or social media presence, is not registered with the New York State Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, and, after being granted tax exempt 501(c)(3) status by the IRS in 2015, did not once file a tax return.

Lumaj, who once claimed that President Donald Trump offered him the ambassadorship to Albania, did not return a request for comment. A woman reached at his office said he was in court.

“All statewide candidates are subject to an audit by the commission and in that process we would look at how they distribute surplus,” said Michael Brandi, general counsel and executive director of the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

Josh Foley, a staff attorney and spokesman for the commission, said candidates who did not participate in the state’s Citizens Elections Program can donate surplus campaign funds to charity if it is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) or veterans organizations registered with the IRS.

Foley could not comment on the donation from Lumaj’s campaign because an official complaint has not been filed.

The IRS classified Albanian Connect Inc. as “Cultural, Ethnic Awareness,” when defining its primary charitable activities in 2015. The IRS non-profit database shows the organization never filed the required 990 tax returns, and as a result, the IRS automatically revoked the tax exempt status of Albanian Connect Inc. on May 15, 2018.

The IRS confirmed tax-exempt status has not been reinstated. There are no names of individuals on any of the documents associated with the organization, but the address — typed incorrectly in Lumaj’s campaign finance report — is 2322 Arthur avenue Suite 205 in the Bronx, New York, the same street address and suite number of Lumaj’s law firm.

During a Hearst Connecticut Media investigation in April, a reporter visited Lumaj’s law office to find it closed. The words “Immigration Law Office” were posted to the door with no indication the small office might also share space with a non-profit.

Lumaj, who was the 2014 GOP secretary of the state nominee, failed to drum up enough delegate support at the state Republican Convention to earn a spot on the primary ballot. He had raised money in compliance with the Citizens Election Program, but never applied for a grant. Since ending his campaign, he has supported Republican nominee Bob Stefanowski.

kkrasselt@hearstmediact.com; 203-842-2563; @kaitlynkrasselt

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