Elijah Cummings' Wife Accused Of 'Self-Dealing' For 'Illegal Private Benefit'

An ethics watchdog has filed a complaint with the IRS accusing Rep. Elijah Cummings' wife, Maya Rockeymoore, of potentially using a charity to derive "illegal private benefit" for the couple, according to the Washington Examiner

Cummings, 68, a Maryland Democrat, is chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. His wife, Maya Rockeymoore, 48, is the chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party and briefly ran in the state's gubernatorial race last year. The couple married in 2008. Cummings was once heavily in debt — in part due to hefty child support payments to his first wife and two other women he had children with — but his financial situation has improved considerably over the past decade. -Washington Examiner

Rockeymoore operates two organizations; a nonprofit called the Center for Global Policy Solutions (CGPS), and a for-profit consulting firm called Global Policy Solutions, LLC. (GPS) According to a Monday filing by the watchdog group, National Legal and Policy Center (NPLC), the two entities have overlapping operations, and may have been used for "illegal private benefit.

According to the report, CGPS and GPS "have mutual clients, donors and projects, and were located at the same address and share a phone number." 

The NLPC's complaint asks the IRS to investigate allegations of "shared leadership," "integrated operations," and "shared address and physical facilities" of Rockeymoore's operations. The Examiner also points out that since marrying Rockeymoore in 2008, Cummings' financial situation has improved considerably. According to financial disclosures, the couple currently owns two rental properties worth up to $500,000 each, and last year they sold their three-bedroom Victorian row house in northwest Washington DC for $896,000. 

According to its website, the Center for Global Policy Solutions is a nonprofit group that seeks to “create healthier communities, strengthen Social Security, and close racial wealth disparities." The for-profit consulting firm, Global Policy Solutions LLC, describes itself as “a social change strategy firm dedicated to making policy work for people and their environments.” The complaint states that they “appear to operate almost as a single entity, allowing for an illegal private benefit for Maya Rockeymoore Cummings and her husband."

Rockeymoore’s consulting firm was selected for a $1 million federal contract with the General Services Administration in 2017 for work on the “Leadership for Healthy Communities” project to combat childhood obesity, according to federal records. At the same time, Rockeymoore’s nonprofit group “served as the national program office for Leadership for Healthy Communities,” according to its website. -Washington Examiner

GPS was awarded over $6.2 million in grants between 2013 and 2016 according to tax filings, while the nonprofit CGPS received backing from the likes of Google, JP Morgan and Prudential - which have business before the House Oversight Committee - currently chaired by Elijah Cummings. The Maryland Congressman has been on the committee for the better part of a decade, where he is now desperately seeking President Trump's tax returns.

Tom Anderson, director of the National Legal and Policy Center’s Government Integrity Project, which has been investigating the nonprofit arrangement and provided research to the Washington Examiner, said the potential for corruption is “off the charts.” He said Rockeymoore declined to let his organization view her nonprofit’s most recent public financial records as required by the IRS. -Washington Examiner

"When a powerful chairman of a committee of the House of Representatives has a wife that is bringing in money from entities with interests before his Committee and she is not providing the transparency mandated by the IRS, there's a serious problem," Anderson told The Examiner. "The potential for corruption in this situation is simply off the charts and can't be understated. We hope Chairman Cummings works with his wife to end the stonewalling and provide the public with what's legally mandated all charities provide." 

If both groups were involved in managing the "Leadership for Healthy Communities" project, the IRS complaint asserts "the arrangement is ‘self-dealing’ and cannot be ‘arms length'" as required by IRS law, and raises the question "of whether its organizers are getting fat off the grants." 

The Examiner tried to visit Rockeymoore's two enterprises, however "a doorman said she had moved out of the office building over a year ago, did not leave a forwarding address, and the building has continued to get her companies’ mail." 

As committee chairman, Cummings, is embroiled in a legal battle to obtain President Trump’s tax returns. 

Cummings recently subpoenaed Trump’s financial records, prompting the president to sue him in an effort to block the subpoena. Cummings struggled with serious financial problems after joining Congress over 20 years ago. His house was placed in foreclosure, at one point; he owed $30,000 in unpaid taxes to the IRS; and he was taken to court multiple times for thousands in unpaid debts. Cummings said his financial difficulties were due to his hefty child support payments. -Washington Examiner

In public filings, Cummings listed his wife as earning an unspecified salary from Global Policy Solutions, LLC - while he failed to disclose that she also receives a salary from her nonprofit, which was $152,000 in 2016 according to the group's tax filings.