CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Old White Charities, the nonprofit mentioned in a federal subpoena of properties headed by Gov. Jim Justice, has been bleeding financially.
On its most recently-available filing with the Internal Revenue Service, the nonprofit corporation associated with The Greenbrier Classic golf event lists net assets of negative $15,290,154.
The filing reflecting 2017 is publicly-available and may be accessed at ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer.
Nonprofits annually file an IRS Form 990 for tax-exempt status. Those on file for Old White Charities show a financial situation that has gotten more and more challenging in recent years.
The most recent form shows total end-of-year assets as $7.6 million.
But it shows total liabilities as $22,948,913.
Old White Charities exists as a nonprofit because of the structure of the PGA Tour, which itself is a nonprofit. The golf organization’s nonprofit business model has been controversial over the years.
The troubled financial situation has kept Old White Charities from contributing much to charity.
Its most recent filing lists a $40,000 grant to the West Virginia Golf Association, $10,000 to the Beckley Area Foundation and $4,000 to the First Tee of West Virginia.
Names in the subpoena
Old White Charities has been the subject of public discussion this week because it was mentioned in the revelation of a federal subpoena looking into organizations under Justice’s leadership.
It’s not clear if Old White’s financial condition, while notable, is related to the federal probe.
The subpoena commanded the state Department of Commerce to provide a range of records about The Greenbrier, The Greenbrier Classic PGA event and Old White Charities, the nonprofit arm of the resort.
The subpoena indicates an investigation by the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, but in itself is not evidence of wrongdoing. It is also not clear whether there are more subpoenas.
The subpoena asks for communications from Commerce to several people acting on behalf of The Greenbrier entities, including James C. Justice II, who is the governor, his son James C. Justice III, who goes by Jay, his daughter Jill, who has been running the resort. Also mentioned is Jill’s husband, Adam Long.
The subpoena specifies several other people involved with the organizations, including Habibi Mamone, who was executive director of the golf tournament. Mamone also ran “Neighbors Loving Neighbors,” which was involved with West Virginia flood relief.
Tim McNeely, another former Greenbrier Classic director, also is mentioned.
The subpoena also name-drops Elmer Coppoolse, chief operating officer of The Greenbrier, as well as vice president of operations Terry Miller.
Also listed are Greenbrier Sporting Club vice president and general manager Larry Klein; Justice Holdings chief financial officer Elaine Butler; Bluestone Industries vice president of treasury Summer Harrison.
Old White Charities officers listed with the West Virginia Secretary of State include Jill Justice as president, Jay Justice as vice president, Adam Long as treasurer and Stephen W. Ball as secretary.
Ball is general counsel for the James C. Justice Companies, which is an umbrella company of businesses including Bluestone.
The Governor’s Office, after issuing its own statement this week about the federal investigation, directed further inquiries to Ball.
Ball, in turn, stated “The Company has no comment at this time.”
“I am the charity.”
Asked by reporters about Old White Charities this week, Governor Justice drew no distinction between himself and the organization.
He referred to the financial challenges of The Greenbrier, natural disasters and his financial role in support of the resort.
“I mean, let’s just be real, I am the charity. I have been the charity,” he said. “The Greenbrier, when we took over The Greenbrier was bankrupt, we were about to lose 2,000 people. We brought it back to life. We suffered through the derecho and the flood.
“And along the way, I brought the golf tournament, and I brought the NFL and I brought the NBA to The Greenbrier. In doing so, I have personally funded in excess of $50 million for us to have the golf tournament, for us to have the golf tournament.”
The IRS filings from 2010 to 2016 listed Jim Justice as president of Old White Charities.
The financial filings with the IRS also show money crossing over between Old White Charities and Justice’s other financial holdings.
The most recent filing has Old White Charities listing assets of $6,312,980 from Southern Coal, $225,000 from Bluestone and $7,900 from the Greenbrier Clinic.
The same filing lists Old White Charities liabilities of $8,338,557 from The Greenbrier Resort plus $1,405,992 to “JCJ II,” referring to James Conley Justice II, the governor.
More liabilities include $597,314 to Greenbrier Medical Institute, $350,000 to Justice Farms and $47,173 to Greenbrier Sporting Club.
Increasingly difficult finances
Filings with the IRS in the years since Old White Charities was established as the non-profit arm of The Greenbrier Classic show increasingly challenging financial circumstances.
In 2010, its first year, the nonprofit was about even. It reported $3.4 million in assets and just over $3.3 million in liabilities.
In 2011, the situation was already different. Total liabilities were at $10.2 million with assets of $4.8 million.
Matters evened out again by 2012 when total liabilities were $1.65 million and assets were $780,000. The filing shows Old White Charities cut expenses significantly, more than $10 million, from the prior year.
Over the next few years, liabilities continued to surge past the assets.
2013: total liabilities of $4,198,077 and assets of $794,002
2014: total liabilities of $13,295,237 and assets of $9,443,500.
2015: total liabilities of $17.2 million and assets of $10.2 million.
Then the catastrophic flood hit Greenbrier County in 2016. It was a natural disaster and a financial disaster.
The Greenbrier Classic had to be canceled that year, and the numbers for Old White Charities suffered even more.
Old White Charities listed only $51,990 in revenue that year. The revenue number had been between $10 million and $20 million each of the prior years.
The bottom dropped out of gross receipts, which would have included any admissions, merchandise sold or services performed. The prior three years that had been $14 million, $17.5 million and $10.6 million. For 2016, with no golf tournament, it was $43,535.
Total liabilities in 2016 were listed at $18,499,312 with total assets at $6.9 million.
Big picture, it was in the hole by $11,588,499, the biggest gap the organization had experienced.
In 2017, Old White Charities improved a bit but, overall, continued to bleed.
The nonprofit reported $4,948,472 in revenue, which, aside from the prior year, was the smallest amount since 2010.
Expenses for 2017 were listed at $8,650,217.
That put Old White in the hole by $3.7 million just for the year.
Old White Charities in court
The nonprofit is no stranger to courtroom conflict.
Old White Charities is part of several Justice properties in a federal lawsuit claiming insurers have not paid up millions of dollars to help recover from the devastating floods of 2016.
Last year, Old White Charities was ordered in federal court to pay nearly $1.4 million in two lawsuits over rental equipment and services after the 2016 tournament was canceled by deadly floods.
Old White Charities also wound up stuck with a $200,000 payout to fans from the 2015 Greenbrier Classic, when two golfers hit holes-in-one on the 18th hole.
The organization had tried to get its insurers to pay up on the prize, but the shots were made on a 137-yard hole and the insurance policy only covered them on holes at least 170 yards long.
State support of Old White Charities
State support of The Greenbrier Classic and Old White Charities also came under scrutiny over the years.
For example, in 2010, the first year of the event, then-Gov. Joe Manchin’s administration tried to push through a supplemental appropriation bill with $1 million in funding on the last day of a July special legislative session.
House Republicans, then in the minority, argued that taxpayer money should not be used to fund a golf tournament.
When the grant was removed from the final version of the supplemental appropriation, Justice blasted the Republicans.
“It was the biggest economic impact to ever hit the state, and the state wasn’t even in the game,” said Justice, years before being the state’s Republican governor.
Early the following year, after Earl Ray Tomblin succeeded Manchin as governor, state officials presented Old White Charities a $1 million grant anyway.
That in turn was criticized by Tim Armstead, currently a state Supreme Court justice but at the time the House minority leader.
“The taxpayers do not expect their hard-earned money to be given to a golf tournament,” Armstead said then.
“I think it was clear that by not adopting the bill that was made during the last legislative session, we made clear that the Legislature did not approve of this.”
The $1 million, along with $15 million in grants and contributions, wound up providing a healthy financial cushion for the tournament in its first year.
Justice and many others thought the state’s support for Old White Charities and The Greenbrier Classic paid off in economic stimulus and good, nationwide publicity.
When Justice became governor, he stopped direct state financial support of The Greenbrier.
He made reference to that during his comments Wednesday.
“Along the way, when I was running for office, not in office yet, but I turned down $1.75 million sponsorship from the state because I didn’t think it was right,” Justice said. “And naturally, when I came into office, I’ve not taken a dime.”