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On the firm’s website, clients and visitors can contribute to the Expat Political Action Committee, originally advertised in a 2008 company tax alert newsletter.
“[I]n light of the current political and economic uncertainty one can never tell,” the alert reads. “That is why we have created the Expat Political Action Committee (EPAC) to protect, promote and preserve US Expat rights in Washington, DC. More on EPAC in future tax alerts.”
A thorough search of Federal Election Commission filings and the Mississippi secretary of state’s charities and nonprofit listings showed no evidence that a PAC of this name was ever registered or has made any political donations.
Yet the company’s site accepts EPAC contributions via a PayPal account attached to firstname.lastname@example.org. A receipt for a donation says, “You sent a payment ... to Steven Palazzo.”
Palazzo’s Congressional office said the PAC listing was a glitch on the site and couldn’t provide any further information about it.
House rules required the change in the Congressman’s company ownership arrangement. According to the House Ethics Manual, Members of Congress are prohibited from earning “income from professional fees such as … accounting.”
Furthermore, House rules cap the amount of outside earned income Members can pull in each year they are in office; for 2011 the limit is $26,955.
According to Palazzo’s 2010 financial disclosure forms, the Congressman made close to $200,000 the year before he took office.
At the same time that Palazzo converted the company, Miller says, he transferred its ownership to his wife. Miller said the transfer happened May 26, but as of Nov. 30, the Corporation Commission of Mississippi, which is maintained by the Mississippi secretary of state, still listed the firm’s name as “Palazzo & Company, PLLC,” and the “Registered Agent” for the firm as Steven M. Palazzo.
“They do tax professional services,” Miller said.
The transfer of the Congressman’s personal business was an attempt to comply with House ethics rules, Miller said. The process had been ongoing since Palazzo was elected last November and was executed under the guidance of legal counsel, according to Miller.
According to the Mississippi Public Accountancy Statutes, which are Title 73, Chapter 33 of the Mississippi Code 1972: “In order to obtain and maintain a firm permit … [a] certified public accountant firm shall be required to show the following … [a] simple majority of the ownership of the firm in terms of financial interests and/or voting rights hold a certified public accountant licenses in any state.”
According to the Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy, Lisa Palazzo is not a licensed CPA with the state.