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Posted 08 Dec 2001   For week ended December 07, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 06Dec01

By Kent Larsen

Samoan Newspaper Accuses RMs of Illegal Campaign Contributions

APIA, SAMOA -- The Samoa Observer newspaper Saturday accused three members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of making illegal donations to the re-election campaign of the country's Prime Minister in 1991, after he helped their not-for-profit foundation obtain the historic estate of author Robert Louis Stevenson. The newspaper's article said that the Arizona-based Robert Louis Stevenson Museum/Project Foundation, started by Rex Maughan, Dan Wakefield and Jim Winegar, made a contribution to the campaign of the late Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana in April 1991 in violation of the foundation's charter and U.S. tax exempt status.

About 1990, Maughan, Wakefield and Winegar formed the foundation in an effort to obtain, restore and preserve Stevenson's estate, Vailima, then owned by the Samoan government, and once used as the official residence of Samoa's head of state. Stevenson is well-known throughout the English-speaking world as the author of the adventure novels "Treasure Island," "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," and "Kidnapped."

All three men, Maughan, Wakefield and Winegar are returned missionaries who once served in Samoa, and who have repeatedly returned to assist the country. Maughan is well-known for his company, Forever Living Products, which has grown to become the third largest network marketing company, behind the giant Avon Products. In 1997 Maughan was listed among the Forbes 400 richest Americans, and his firm is still listed by Forbes as one of the 500 largest private companies.

News reports indicate that all three provided assistance during hurricanes that hit Samoa in 1990 and 1991. They were also among a group of returned missionaries who helped BYU professor Paul A. Cox preserve 30,000 acres of rain forest near the village of Falealupo, on the Samoan island of Savai'i. For their efforts, the village Elders honored Maughan, Wakefield and Cox with high chief names.

But the newspaper charges that the foundation made a contribution of some kind to Prime Minister Alesana's re-election campaign before the election on April 5, 1991, as evidenced by a letter that the Prime Minister sent to the foundation on July 15th of that year. In the letter Tofilau wrote, according to the Samoa Observer, "Dear Sirs, this is to place on record my sincerest appreciation for your kind contribution towards my preparations for the General Elections held on 5 April 1991."

The newspaper also points out that the government had, in a controversial move on August 29, 1990, accepted the foundation's proposal to "restore and preserve the RLS Estate at Vailima." But preservationists call the restoration, completed in 1994, a success, and the estate is now home to the National Museum of Western Samoa and is one of the premier tourist destinations in the country.

But, the Observer wrote, the foundation's own policy prohibited donations. It quoted the foundation's "Financial Statement Policy" as saying it was a "Tax-exempt, not-for-profit organization incorporated" in the U.S. Under U.S. law, such corporations are generally prohibited from making political contributions, which the foundation's policy mentioned, "This precludes foundation funds being used for political or other business purposes at home or abroad, as well as loans to organizations or individuals, etc."

Maughan did not return queries by the news service AFP. However, this isn't the first time Maughan has come under criticism for his tax positions. The book "The Cheating of America," published earlier this year, accuses Maughan of using "well-placed international tax lawyers to shelter much of his company's income in trusts located in the Isle of Jersey . . . These trusts, meanwhile, had only one beneficiary: Rex Maughan."

However, neither the book, nor coverage of the donation to Alesana's campaign, indicates that any of the three is even under investigation by authorities either in the U.S. or in Samoa.


Alleged political contributions
Samoa Observer 2Dec01 P2

Treasure Island's author caught up in new political claims
Melbourne Australia The Age (AFP) 5Dec01 P2
By Alan Ah Mu

Church Responds Swiftly to Samoa Disaster
LDS Church News 28Dec91 P2

Hurricane Shatters Tropical Calm
LDS Church News 17Feb90 P2

Samoan Rain Forest Reprieved From Ruin
LDS Church News 19Aug89 P2
By Ken Perkins: Church News Contributor

See also:

Table of Contents: The Cheating of America
The Center for Pubic Integrity

Rex Maughan

The Cheating of America
More about "The Cheating of America: How Tax Avoidance and Evasion by the Super Rich Are Costing the Country Billions, and What You Can Do About It" by Charles Lewis, Bill Allison, Center for Public Integrity at


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