JACKSON — The secretary of state’s office has ordered a Maryland-based organization that finds homes for recovering alcoholics and former drug addicts to stop soliciting donations in Mississippi.
Oxford House Inc. is based in a Silver Spring, Maryland. It operates about 15 group homes in Mississippi.
The Clarion-Ledger reports that the secretary of state’s office levied a $1,000 fine to Oxford House because it doesn’t qualify for an exemption to registering as charity in the state.
Oxford House said it qualified for an exemption because it didn’t intend to solicit and receive more than $25,000 during any 12-month period.
The secretary of state’s office said a review of Internal Revenue Service records show the organization received $440,000 in contributions and grants.
Oxford House Attorney Steve Polin said Wednesday said Oxford House and the secretary of state have a different interpretation of the charity law.
“We didn’t receive any of the $440,000 from Mississippi,” Polin said. “This was on our federal taxes. We are looking into this and will work with the secretary of state’s office to try to resolve this issue as expeditious as possible.”
Polin said Oxford House submitted a $50 check April 15 for the charity registration, but the secretary of state’s office rejected it.
Pamela Weaver, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, said the order was the result of “a complaint from the public.”
“We won’t have any comment outside what’s in the order,” she said.
Weaver said all charities soliciting donations in Mississippi are required to register with the secretary of state’s charities division, or file for an exemption. Exemptions are allowed for certain solicitations, such as some educational groups, solicitations for individuals or families in need, and for organizations that don’t intend to solicit or receive more than $25,000 in donations in a year.
“You can either register as a charity, or register for an exemption, but you must register,” Weaver said. “They had not registered.”