If the form was filed and has simply been misplaced by the IRS, then the other allegations would have little meaning. Still, while the organization filed its tax papers--known officially as Form 990--last year without incident, agency sources said this evening that nobody there remembers seeing this year's documents. None of the three members of the foundation's board contacted by the Washington Post were willing to discuss the activities of the charity. Attempts to interview the other six members of the board--all of whom are large donors to Republican political organizations--were unavailing.
We sent the IRS that form last year and lost all of our records in an office fire," Reading for Dollars Treasurer Florence Floom, was quoted as telling Class War, in the article. Floom also served as treasurer in Speaker Gingrich's successful re-election campaign in 1996. She is highly controversial in Washington financial and political circles. Recruited by Gingrich in 1996 from the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's organization, it was Floom herself who prepared the Rev. Moon's tax returns the year he was arrested for income-tax evasion.
Page, in her article, contends--without documentation--that the foundation raised more than $1.2 million this year but spent less than 10 percent of it on children. If so the numbers would have changed radically in a single year. Financial forms from the foundation on record at the IRS for last year show 70 percent of all money raised by Reading for Dollars going to children.
Page, who conceded in an interview that she is motivated by her anger at Gingrich and his politics, attempts to make a connection in her article between the Rev. Moon's Unification Church and Gingrich's well known love of dinosaurs. But other than Floom's move from the church to Gingrich, she provides no grounds for such accusations.
There was no sign of life today at the foundation headquarters, a beautiful Queen Anne-style mansion on 16th Street, in the Adams Morgan section of the District. Phone calls went unanswered, lights were off, the gates to the mansion--built in 1899 by an heir to the International Harvester fortune--were locked.
Children interviewed on the street say they have never heard of Reading for Dollars. Most had never hear of Gingrich either.
"Mister I'll read a comic book for a dollar if you've got one," said one sly little boy, who ran off before waiting to find out if his offer would be accepted.
Michael Specter is a Moscow correspondent for the New York Times.