This is strange in so many ways, not the least of which being that TMZ, the generally worthless celebrity gossip website, is responsible for blowing the whistle.
Actress Brittany Murphy, best known for her break-out role as the cool-girl wannabe in “Clueless,” collapsed and died in the shower in December, another apparent victim of too much stress, too many diets, and too many prescription drugs in her system. “The Brittany Murphy Foundation,” set up by her family and husband, Simon Monjack, began soliciting contributions on its website in January, supposedly for arts education for children. TMZ received a tip that something was amiss, did some investigation, and discovered that no such foundation had been registered with either the IRS or the State of California. Following TMZ’s inquiry prior to posting its scoop, the foundation’s site was quickly taken down.
It then resurfaced, minus its appeal for contributions, with a bizarre message that began…
We began the Brittany Murphy Foundation to honor Brittany’s wishes and to give family, fans and her friends a way to keep her keep her legacy alive. In an effort to get the foundation off the ground quickly, we established it as a private foundation with plans to apply for non-profit status down the road. However, after some thought, we have decided to wait until we have our non-profit status approved before proceeding to insure that we can truly honor Brittany’s charitable desires…
The statement concludes by announcing that it would return the donations that it had received so far.
Yes, “after some thought,” the organizers concluded that online fraud was not the best way to honor dear Brittany.
It might be the least auspicious start for a charity in the history of memorial foundations. What could possibly account for this? Is it possible these people—Simon Monjack is a British screenwriter who didn’t just fall off the turnip truck—really thought it would all right to solicit tax-exempt contributions before their organization was tax-exempt? Who was their lawyer—Loius Tully? Lionel Hutz? And didn’t anyone teach them the difference between “insure” and “ensure”?