Friends of Abe
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Screenwriter Lionel Chetwynd helped organize the group. "Friends of Abe" is a reference to "Friends of Bill", which is how members of Alcoholics Anonymous sometimes identify themselves, and "Friends of Dorothy" (a euphemism for male homosexuals), while "Abe" refers to Abraham Lincoln. As of January 2012, the organization had more than 1,800 members. In addition to Sinise, Pat Boone, Jon Voight, Kelsey Grammer, Kevin Sorbo, and Scott Baio have stated that they are members of the organization. The organization fiercely protects its list of members for whom it maintains a secure private website, abespal.com. Sinise later withdrew from the leadership and Hollywood producer Jeremy Boreing became executive director.
The group met monthly to hear guest speakers. It has hosted a number of Republican politicians at its events, including Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum, John Boehner, and Thaddeus McCotter. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia received reimbursement for giving a speech at a FOA fundraiser in 2012. Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Michael Steele and Mark Levin have also met with Friends of Abe, as have political operatives Frank Luntz and Karl Rove.
Friends of Abe spent three years trying to get tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status for their organization. The tax status is reserved for organizations that do not engage in any partisan activity. IRS officials have questioned whether the organization's promotion of presidential candidates during its events constituted political campaign support, an activity forbidden for tax-exempt organizations. During the application process, FOA refused IRS demands to provide it with access to the part of its website that includes its list of members since such access is not required by federal law. The tax-exempt status was granted in March 2014.
In April 2016 it was announced by executive director Boreing that “Effective immediately, we are going to begin to wind down the 501 c3 organization, bring the Sustaining Membership dues to an end, and do away with the costly infrastructure and the abespal.com website”
A rival group with the same name was founded in 2017, partly due to conservative divisions over Donald Trump.
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- "Should Supreme Court Justices be Held to Same Ethics Code as Other Federal Judges?". AllGov. August 5, 2013.
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- Johnson, Ted (March 16, 2004). "IRS Grants Non-Profit Status to Hollywood Conservative Group Friends of Abe". Variety.
- Carroll, Rory. "Secretive group of Hollywood conservatives suddenly dissolves". The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
- Carroll, Rory (June 13, 2017). "Club for Hollywood Republicans locked in dispute – caused in part by Trump". The Guardian.