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Feb 16, 2011 11:35 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Civic Association Members Call For President's Resignation

Feb 16, 2011 11:35 AM

It was clear that no one at the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association meeting on Monday night had any interest in being President Brad Bender’s valentine.

Despite the candy heart decorations dotting the walls and pink Valentine’s Day cake that was enjoyed by meeting attendees, a firestorm erupted between long-time members of the organization and Mr. Bender over the possibility that his pending bid for a seat on the Southampton Town Board could jeopardize FRNCA’s standing as a not-for-profit in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service.

While association members stopped short of calling for Mr. Bender’s resignation during the meeting on Tuesday, some members said he should, in fact, step down.

Longtime association member Richard Naso brought up during the public participation portion of Monday’s meeting that the group is recognized as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization, and questioned whether Mr. Bender’s intentions to run for town council in the fall would put FRNCA in danger of losing its designation due to political entanglements.

“FRNCA is at a crossroads,” Mr. Naso said. “At this point, FRNCA gets status as a not-for-profit. We cannot have any political affiliation. You’ve put FRNCA in jeopardy.”

Mr. Naso stressed that the interjection was not a personal attack on the group’s president.

Mr. Bender, who has said that he intends to run for office but has not yet been endorsed by any political party, said that because he is not yet an official candidate, there is no conflict.

“I have announced myself as a candidate. Am I an official candidate? No,” responded Mr. Bender. “I’m not on any ballot and I’m not official in the eyes of the state.”

Mr. Bender added that he expects to begin his campaign for a seat on the Town Board in April, about the same time that the community association will be looking for a new president. The group holds elections for new officers every April. He said that he would “gladly step aside,” to welcome a new president.

However, yells from long-time member Carl Iacone for Mr. Bender to “do the right thing” echoed from the back of the room at the David W. Crohan Community Center in Flanders on Monday night. Mr. Iacone said he would not ask Mr. Bender to step down, only to do what’s “right for the community” in his own eyes. “You’re going to hurt the community!” he shouted.

According to IRS public relations representative Dianne M. Besunder, the federal agency is prohibited by law from commenting on any specific group or any hypothetical situation regarding possible violations of its exempt status. Ms. Besunder passed along information from the IRS’s official website stating that not-for-profit groups “must absolutely refrain from participating in the political campaigns of candidates for local, state or federal office.”

The IRS also notes that a not-for-profit group “must restrict its lobbying activities to an insubstantial part of its total activities.”

Mr. Bender noted that no one in FRNCA is campaigning for him.

Chris Sheldon, an eight-year member of the organization, said that he believes Mr. Bender does not have the tri-hamlet community’s best interests at heart due to his newfound political aspirations.

“He’s someone trying to wear two hats: being a community leader and being in the political arena,” Mr. Sheldon said. “Brad Bender is playing with both hats and it’s hurting our community. What’s happening is he’s leaning toward decisions that are political.”

Mr. Bender abruptly ended the meeting after the heated exchange failed to dissipate. He said no one has expressed an interest in running for president after he steps down.

“Our elections are in April,” Mr. Bender said. “We are looking for new people and new faces.”

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It is with my best intention to move from the Community Association into local government to continue to be a stand for the people that are under represented.
I have always put the community first, providing toys at Christmas to families in need, school supplies to our elementary school, food for our seniors and winter coats to our grade school children in need.
This was truly a partisan representation of a select few and by no means the pulse of the membership. I believe the people of ...more
By Brad (28), Northampton on Feb 16, 11 10:18 PM
After carefully reading your post, it really shows more of a "me me me" and not OUR organization provided and did, its always me me and i i from you. True colors show that you like to take all the credit and take it away from the community and members of FRNCA. Thanks Brad, are you getting ready for your campaign with this you you you did??
By FLRalph (9), Flanders on Feb 18, 11 3:58 PM
Tell me FLRalph, were YOU there to put up the Christmas decorations at the Flanders/Riverside corners? Or come out with other members of FRNCA to plant new trees and flowers on the RT24 circle? Or to collect and present toys to the children of the Phillips Ave Elementary School? Or bring your BBQ to the annual picnic to cook food for the FNCA community and their family? Or..I could go on and on..the list of contributions Brad has made for FRNCA is awesome. Why shouldn't he be allowed to take ...more
By NorthamptonRes (2), northampton on Feb 18, 11 4:40 PM
Well Brad (cough cough I mean NorthamptonRes) as a matter of fact I have been active in numerous volunteer events within this community and I have just enough if not more right to stand up against Brad because indeed I have contributed and done just as much. I am a member of FRNCA and have been many more years then Mr. Politician. My "resume" of what I have put into this community is more extensive then his... so save yourself the time of "pumping yourself up" on this forum... whats next... you ...more
By FLRalph (9), Flanders on Feb 19, 11 10:18 PM
Amazing! Absolutely amazing!! Here is a man who has only announced his interest in running for office and he is already being jumped on by the (obvious) Republican aparatchiks. Bender hasn't been nominated by anyone nor (I believe) even interviewed or screened by any political party and yet they (the R's) are calling for his skin. So if I read this correctly they (the R's) are already so afraid of a possible candidate that they are willing to undermine, hamper and hinder him even before he has a ...more
By EastEndHomie (27), Southampton on Feb 17, 11 11:43 AM
While Ms Cooper reported a fairly accurate story, she failed to mention the reason Mr BEnder ended the meeting so abruptly. ON the heels of Mr Naso's attack on the presidents intentions for the association, Mr Iacone blasted the president and the entire executive board to COMMIT then and there to front $1000 and join 2 other local community associations to hire Skip Heany, the former Town Supervisor, to advise the Town on how to reduce out taxes by stabilizing the tax equalization rate...whatever ...more
By NorthamptonRes (2), northampton on Feb 18, 11 7:49 AM
What sour grapes! A sore loser exposed! Moral or the story it is the law! Democrates use politics and finger pointing when their caught doing wrong and breaking laws.. next is that the irs laws are bias against democrates.
By shakeypolitics (2), Southampton on Feb 18, 11 12:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
There were 25 people at that meeting. Three, count them three, made an issue of this. Right or wrong, they represent a small portion of FRNCA membership.
Brad did not end the meeting "abruptly", the business of the meeting was over. End of story. You do Brad and FRNCA a disservice by writing the story as you did.
By Terry (380), Southampton on Feb 18, 11 2:15 PM
1 member liked this comment
EastEndHomie.. You are a perfect example of how people twist the stories. It has nothing to do with political views of who is a democrat and who is a republican. If he was a republican he should still be asked to step down. End of story the IRS states u cannot have political entanglements and Mr. Bender has done just that. So when we read this story lets read it the easy way. A not for profit organization is at risk of losing there status due to there president violating IRS laws/rules to obtain ...more
By SHTownHB (75), Hampton Bays on Feb 18, 11 2:46 PM
Bender is using this community to put it on his resume when he does run. Here's his slogan "Vote for me look what I did for FRNCA" But what youre really doing for FRNCA is risking there not for profit status and stalling on other issues ex. Hiring Heaney. So what good are you doing for this community Bender? Thank you to Mr.Sheldon, Naso and Iacone for caring about your community and doing the resesrch and bringing attention to others in this community.
By FLRalph (9), Flanders on Feb 18, 11 3:34 PM
IRS info to clarify: "To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition it may not be an action organization,i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political ...more
By Brad (28), Northampton on Feb 18, 11 5:23 PM
HERES A QUESTION BRAD... Why is it when you introduce yourself you state... and I quote " Hello my name is Brad Bender, President of FRNCA running for town board" HOW ABOUT YOU LEARN HOW TO SEPERATE THE TWO! Your using FRNCA as your stepping stone into the politics. What a jerk you are!
By FLRalph (9), Flanders on Feb 19, 11 10:22 PM
oh and brad the next time you want to create a fake membership on this website to pump your comments up, make sure you leave a bigger gap in the time frame... even on your "secret" name you still like to brag brag brag... dead give away!
By FLRalph (9), Flanders on Feb 19, 11 10:24 PM
Sorry, FLRalph I do not have a fake membership, but when i do post it's obvious Unfortunate that when somebody actually cares about the community they are chastised for it.
By Brad (28), Northampton on Feb 20, 11 1:13 PM
Mr. Bender,
The way you conducted yourself at the most recent BVPCTA Candidate Night, while sitting at a table inhabited by political big wigs of a singular political party, of which you have been wooing for months to aquire their nomination nod for our town board: and to virtually attack (and that is what it was) a candidate for Congressional One, Randy Altschuler, Republican; and you being an officer, the President, and no less, of a 501(c)3 Tax Exempt Corp, IMO is nothing else but corrupt, ...more
By fazool (22), Southampton on Feb 20, 11 4:52 PM
Well spoken Mr.Sacco!!!

By SHTownHB (75), Hampton Bays on Feb 21, 11 9:58 PM
EastEndHomie has it right, this is a wolf pack circling around Brad Bender because they don't like his politics. Let me get this straight -- a community association like FRNCA is there to speak for the community, right? To whom do they speak? The Town, the County, the State and the Feds, right? So they're talking to elected officials, getting their message across, right? So if a member -- or an officer -- of a community association wants to have a greater voice by becoming an elected official ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Feb 22, 11 1:26 PM
A further thought: There's been a lot of talk about FRNCA's 501(c)(3) tax status. I don't believe Brad Bender is jeopardizing FRNCA's tax-exempt status at all, but let's look at it a little more closely. 501(c)(3) qualification allows two things: People can deduct what they contribute to the organization, and the organization doesn't have to pay tax on its income.

How important is either of these to FRNCA? How much in the way of contributions does it receive (or need) beyond regular ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Feb 22, 11 3:35 PM