My interest in reporting and blogging any further on the USA pavilion at Expo 2010 [Shanghai World's Fair] ranges from none at all to zero. The Expo is over, and the consequences – if any – for how the founders of the pavilion conducted themselves in the course of securing, funding, designing, and promoting the pavilion is in the hands of others. But, then again … this weekend I received copies of some of the USA pavilion’s federal tax forms from 2008 and 2009. I had no interest or intent in posting them, but then, at the end of the 2009 filing, I found this:
Please note that the organization – officially Shanghai Expo 2010, Inc [SE2010] – was commissioned by the US State Department to design, build, fund, and operate a USA pavilion at Expo 2010. If the State Department itself had done it, the governing documents, conflict of interest policy, and financial statements would have been – by law – available to the public. But, for reasons I won’t go into here, it wasn’t run by State. In any case, the State Department, the Beijing Embassy, and the Shanghai Consulate apparently saw nothing objectionable in hiding from the American people, how money, raised and spent in their name, was being spent. This is precisely the kind of secrecy – totally unnecessary, over-the-top secrecy – that makes organizations like wikileaks so valuable and necessary. So, in that spirit, I’m going to make available for upload/viewing SE2010′s Form 990s from 2008 and 2009. Right-click them to download; otherwise left-click and they’ll appear in a form you can read them at Shanghai Scrap.
I should be clear: there’s nothing confidential or secret here. These are publicly available documents – a person just has to go through the trouble of getting them. So consider this post my gift to Shanghai Scrap’s readers: you no longer have to go through the expense and trouble of getting them. Now, a warning: there’s no obvious smoking gun here. These documents span a period that ends in late summer 2009 – before most of the money associated with the pavilion had been raised and spent. Still, there are a couple of item that stick out, the most glaring being the US$367,830 on legal in 2009 (Part IX, line 9b). Ellen Eliasoph, a co-founder and director of the pavilion, is also a partner at Covington & Burling – the official legal services provider for the USA pavilion. In other words, as a partner in Covington & Burling, she personally benefited from the money spent on those legal services – which may be one reason that SE2010 didn’t want its conflict-of-interest policies and financials made public.
But whatever. Have a look for yourself, let me know if you see anything, and I’ll be back at you with what promises to be a much more interesting batch of 2010 tax filings whenever they become available next year.