What is this Conejo Guardian? It's a question I still receive PMs about, as it hits people's driveways.
The paper, and I refuse to call it journalism as it doesn't adhere to basic journalistic best practices, attempts to position itself as an "independent community news source." Rather, "independent biased community takes" feels more appropriate, but perhaps that's because I prefer being honest with the audience you're communicating to.
A little digging, and you'll note this propaganda is far from nonpartisan/neutral.
THIS IS AN UPDATE AS OF JULY 9, 2022:
The Conejo Guardian continues to publish hit pieces and name community members in these featured hate pieces, so let’s take a look at who’s behind the Conejo Guardian!
I first start digging into this mysterious new newspaper back in May of 2020. Information was scarce on both their website and the paper itself, leaving very little toward identifying who is behind the opinion pieces and 39,000 circulation paper (although in recent speech at a political event they stated the circulation as 44,000).
Amy Chen — the woman who created a paper shell of a fake nonprofit in order to claim “educational nonprofit director” as a ballot designation in her failed 2018 CVUSD School Board run, is listed as the agent of service for process. She also spoke at a FREE VENTURA PAC meeting hosted at Godspeak Calvary earlier this year, taking credit/ownership for the launch of the paper. Amy Chen is a Godspeak Calvary congregant and close friends with Rob McCoy, who endorsed her school board run in 2018.
Amy Chen stated the paper is all about "truth," while having printed multiple pieces that have a litany of baseless claims that attack community members and teachers.
The entity address listed for this “publication” is listed as: 4607 Lakeview Canyon Road, STE 433 in Westlake Village. It’s a PO Box at a UPS Store.
The March 2020 Statement of Information listed these officers for the Conejo Guardian:
* CEO as Jennifer Weir (interviewed for area 2 CVUSD vacant seat but was not selected)
* Secretary as Amit Gupta (wife is Avani Gupta, active California Parent Alliance member)
* CFO as Brian Shin
In December 2020, there was an updated Statement of Information:
* CEO as Amy Chen (who replaced Jennifer Weir at this time for reasons unknown).
* Secretary as Amit Gupta
* CFO as Brian Shin
Then, on Feb. 1, 2022, another updated Statement of Information:
* CEO as Brian Orta (his wife of Lindsey & Lindsey Wealth Management has business ads placed in the paper)
* Secretary as Amy chen
* CFO as David Glienke (David Glienke is the President of ClearCoast Wealth Management)
Then, filed on June 6, 2022:
* CEO as Amy chen
* Secretary as Doug DeGroote (Managing Director of DeGroote Financial Group whose website lists its main cause as Turning Point USA — Charlie Kirk’s org that Rob McCoy is a part of.)
* CFO as David Glienke
* Additional Officer: Joshua Linn (has authored Conejo Guardian articles, and if the correct Linn, is listed as a Senior Vice President with Beitler Commercial Realty Services and is on the Carden Conejo Advisory Board)
The Guardian’s editor is Joel Kilpatrick, who states on his website that he is “the leader of the Company Christian Fellowship.”
The Conejo Guardian crew was on-site at the school board meeting last Tuesday in full force, documenting the Maple parent who complained, along with McCoy-backed Joelle Mancuso, who’s hoping to take Area 2 CVUSD seat in November and implement an anti-LGBTQ+ student regime. Dean Ortmann, who delivers the Conejo Guardian in some of our neighborhoods was also there with this crew. He’s been pictured at rallies with Joelle Mancuso and was being investigated in LA for a hate crime last Jan. 6, 2021. Dean verbally stalked March for our Lives folk a few weeks ago … driving down the opposite side of the boulevard, parking, screaming, and then repeating for the length of the March. He was pulled over for erratic driving that day. Additionally, he’s close buddies with VC Defense gun shop owner who advertises in the Conejo Guardian and showed up to the school board meeting with guns plastered on his shirt.
That’s who these folks are. These are the people behind the hate-filled propaganda paper that hits your porch once per month.
The IRS only lists a 990 from them for Tax Period: 2020 (01/01/2020 - 12/31/2020) which is for orgs that receive less than $50,000 annually. This is interesting. How is a 24-page color publication with a circulation of 44,000 per month, operating for under $50,000?
NOW LET ME ADD: ... Conejo Guardian is registered as a 509A2 public charity. What does this mean?
The main difference between 501c3 and 509a2 Private foundations, 509a1, 509a2, and 509a3 public charities, and private operating foundations all fall under the 501c3 tax-exempt status.
A 501c3 organization is presumed to be a private foundation until they prove they are public charities. Once they have proved they are a public charity, a nonprofit will be distinguished as a 509a1, 509a2, or 509a3 public charity. This is important because donations to a private foundation and public charity are taxed differently. Your supporters will want to know the difference.
Donors who give to a public charity can deduct up to 60% of their adjusted gross income (AGI) on their annual taxes. A donation to a private foundation may be limited to 30% of their AGI.
3. Private foundations vs. public charities
A single individual or business generally creates private foundations. A private foundation must be built to meet the charitable priorities of a 501c3 organization. The founder will often donate a significant amount to invest and create income and thus retain a significant pull over the organization’s activities. Private foundations will provide grants to organizations that have programs that meet the foundation’s goals.
Public charities carry out specific charitable activities that qualify the organization for tax-exempt status as a 501c3 organization. These public charities must solicit donations from the public.
The main difference between the two is how they collect funds. Private foundations can receive a majority of their income from investments. A public charity must receive mostly public support over five years.
This is interesting ... their 501a2 status as a public charity would require that it must receive mostly public support versus income from investments. Most of its officers run wealth management investment firms. Are these the "public" "donating" to this organization to fund such a massive operation?
I first start digging into this mysterious new newspaper back in May of 2020. Information was scarce on both their website and the paper itself, leaving very little toward identifying who is behind the opinion pieces and 39,000 circulation paper. And so, I emailed them.
By May 15, 2020, they had updated their website, although I never received a response from them.
Here's my May 15, 2020 Facebook post detailing this further:
“As of today, they've updated their "About" page with a Certificate of Good Standing. They are listed under the Franchise Tax Board ... but they are not exempt. They never responded to my inquires via email, Facebook or Twitter about an EIN, which make sense ... since they're not tax-exempt.
To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.
These are prohibited as a tax-exempt nonprofit:
Sounds like we know why they're not a tax-exempt nonprofit corporation.
So, whose pocketbook is benefitting from the donations this corporation receives? We already know about its political motives ...”
NEW INFORMATION: The above post, as mentioned, was made on May 15, 2020. On Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, I decided to revisit the website to review if there were any updates. Some noticeable ones are below. I visited the CA Secretary of State website and selected corporation, and entered "Conejo Guardian" to find the filed paperwork.
So, that's interesting. I don't recall seeing Amy Chen's name listed as the Agent of Service of Process for the Conejo Guardian when I first researched back in May 2020. For those who aren't familiar with Amy Chen, she is a former CVUSD school board candidate who lost in 2018, and was notorious for having created the paper shell of a fake nonprofit, in order to be able to claim a ballot designation of "educational nonprofit director." I'm not kidding. You can read all about it in the website I created exclusively to address this issue back in 2018, in order to bring awareness to the corruption taking place locally. (NOTE THIS, because I'm going to circle back to it later.)
What is an Agent of Service of Process? Legal Zoom describes it as:
"Before you form a corporation or limited liability company, you’ll need to choose an agent for service of process. The term sounds like complicated legal jargon, but the concept is really quite simple. An agent for service of process is a person who receives lawsuits and other documents on behalf of your business. Depending on the state where you live, the agent may also be referred to as a registered agent or statutory agent."
And then, I clicked into the documents, and noticed some changes between the SI-COMPLETE (Statement of Information) documents as filed on March 21 and Dec. 13 of 2020.
The Conejo Guardian registered as a domestic nonprofit corporation on 3/2/2020. Its ASOP is a service corporation. The business address appears to be a PO Box at a UPS store in Westlake Village. The Statement of Info for March 21, 2020 lists:
I've long wondered if Amit Gupta has any relation to Avani Gupta, an active member of California Parent Alliance (CPA). (This link seems to connect the two.) CPA is an anti-public school, anti-health and sex education movement launched by Tim Cooley, a first cousin of Sandee Everett. CPA describes itself as: “We are a California non-profit non-partisan organization dedicated to defending parental rights.” They show up in force to CVUSD school board meetings to express outrage over the discussion to update the health and sex ed curriculum to adhere to state law (California Healthy Youth Act), due to its inclusivity being in conflict with their transphobic and homophobic ideals.
The Statement of Info for Dec. 13, 2020 lists:
Additionally, on Aug. 1, 2021, I ran a search through the IRS for further paperwork on Conejo Guardian given their asks for donations.
On June 9, 2020 ... three weeks after asking I had prodded for information last year, Conejo Guardian obtained a statement from the IRS declaring it a charity under IRC Code 509(a)2.
What's that mean?
Via the Foundation Group: Revenue Source: Contributions, Program Revenue, and Investments - 509(a)(2) StatusA public charity recognized under sub-section 509(a)(2) is one that, normally receives not more than one-third of its financial support from gross investment income and receives more than one-third of its financial support from contributions, membership fees, and gross receipts from activities related to its exempt functions (subject to certain exceptions).
Similar to the 509(a)(1), a 509(a)(2) likely receives donation support. In addition, a portion of its revenue comes from investment income (limited to 33% of total income), membership dues, and/or program revenue, the latter being money earned from the sale of goods and/or services that are directly related to the nonprofit’s exempt purpose.
In 2020, the organization listed less than 50k in donations/investments/funds. I find that pretty interesting. I spoke with another local publication about estimated cost to produce and print and distribute 39k circulation (estimate 20-25 pages) once per month, and it was estimated at $10k per run, which would put Conejo Guardian into $100k range, give or take given March 2020-December 2020 monthly distribution cycle. If they're anywhere near this ... something feels off.
The Conejo Guardian is known for its heavily biased far-right op-eds and "letters to the editor" section, grammatical errors, and "articles" written by community members like Frank Enderle (a realtor who keeps running for political office to boost his name recognition and is a frequent commenter in the private Facebook group: Conservative Moms of Conejo Valley); Cheryl Bisera, a vocal voice in the conservative community; and Linda Nicolosi — the wife of deceased "father of conversion therapy" Joseph Nicolosi, whose books projecting anti-LGBTQ+ ideology were removed from Amazon stemming from backlash over the trauma his works have caused.
Anyway, that's the scoop on the Conejo Guardian that gets delivered to your door once a week. It's a far-right propaganda piece managed by Amy Chen, filled with slanted opinion pieces disguised as "reporting" to ... "move the needle." This group long talked about seizing opportunities to post misinformation on Next Door, where they acknowledged that even if it gets taken down, they'll at least get eyes on it. Creating a local paper is part of that long-term strategy to "take back America" and "turn it Red."
************** DEC. 27, 2021 UPDATE*********************
Few things, I have some thoughts on some of their editions detailed HERE and HERE and HERE ... and here's a deeper dive that includes a bit of context ... HERE.
OK, now remember how I mentioned Top Goal Education? I need to come back to that because there's NEW INFORMATION on that front as well.
The paperwork shell of a nonprofit Amy Chen created in 2018? Welp, it looks like in 2020, Amy wasn't busy just shoring up paperwork for a conservative propaganda paper ... she also wanted to clean up that whole mess about the fake nonprofit. SO, TWO years after the fact, based on the March 30, 2020 dated document verifying nonprofit status via the IRS, she started working to legitimize the paper shell. She was a busy girl during the onset of COVID, wasn't she? In December 2019, a new statement of information was filed, and by May 2020, it was electronically filed by the secretary of state.
There's still no official website or information, or program brochures of services or support being offered to any student anywhere ... so um, really not sure what their end game is here with keeping up paperwork documents for a nonprofit that has never materialized in real form or service.
What I really want to know is ... who is funding this all?
Who is funding the Conejo Guardian? They've clearly got a funder. It's not like some secret underground grassroots op happened for them to fund a monthly community paper. I'm wondering if Rob McCoy is involved in the funding in any capacity.
8/5/2021 07:36:38 am
They’re wasting their money because everyone I know throws that fake paper away after they read one copy. It’s pure trash.
8/29/2022 01:04:02 pm
Who do I call to keep this lying rag off of my driveway? I’m seriously thinking of suing them for littering!
11/20/2022 05:26:19 pm
If you are “Mommy’s” who care about your children why are accusations and gossip driving you? How’s that working for you Moms? How about finding shared concern? Why not? Who is the Founder of this group?
11/21/2022 08:29:48 am
Hi Susan Balonick-Savas Kline — Thanks for visiting my website. I'm not sure who you are referring to when you write: "Mommy's" ... but mothers are also human beings welcome to participate in the local dialogue as it relates to local politics and propaganda papers being tossed unsolicited on our porches each month. If you want to "share a concern" ... then feel free to share the concerns I've posted above. Peace and blessings!
12/24/2021 12:54:35 pm
The star in the logo and the entire layout resembles the same star and layout being used in the newly created Tennessee Star and Georgia Star conservative newspapers. see https://tennesseestar.com/ & https://georgiastarnews.com/
12/25/2021 12:50:56 am
You people are indoctrinated tools of the Marxist Left and are too stupid to realize that you are being played for fools. Go ahead though. Put your trust in Biden, Fauci and Pfizer. Be sure you get ALL your booster jabs too!
Ed is right and Peggy is wrong
12/27/2021 07:03:42 am
Ed is right
12/27/2021 09:01:58 am
Lots of smoke, accusations and hand waving, but zero evidence.
12/27/2021 02:12:21 pm
You sound triggered by the simple facts laid out in this post, and I'n not sure why you're so defensive over the facts. Praying for you to find peace. Happy Holidays!
6/3/2022 08:26:30 am
"Not a single example of the paper being factually incorrect." In order to have factual inaccuracies, you first need facts. This "paper" disguises opinion as fact, & editorial as news. It is dishonest, but, sadly, a common theme throughout conservative media today.
12/27/2021 01:49:29 pm
Note that David Lane* recently sold his home in on Evenstar in Westlake Village and appears to have moved to Dallas TX. Lane is the Christian Nationalist activist that connected his good buddy McCoy to the Texas oil fracking billionaire Dan Wilks who bought the YMCA through his charity and leases it to Godspeak.
12/27/2021 01:52:15 pm
12/27/2021 01:53:12 pm
Spot on Pablo. Here's a bit of background I had initially done a while back on McCoy/Lane - a bit dated of a blog post at this point: http://www.anonymousmommy.com/blog/pastor-er-mayor-pastor-rob-mccoy
12/27/2021 04:02:19 pm
Im sure you think LA Times is great journalism. What if this was a far left outlet with leftwing ties? That would be ok right. Because right equals evil and left wong equals righteous and good. That is a false paradigm and buys right into the 2 party illusion. Why dont you critique the actual articles and the content and find out if its factual or not?
3/25/2022 06:14:04 pm
Thanks for this research. Wish there was a way to get them to stop delivering it.
6/5/2022 11:48:30 am
Let them deliver to me. I want them eating throwing useless dollars in my direction
12/30/2022 05:17:58 pm
Yes. How do we get a stop delivery on the Guardian?
4/27/2022 08:39:40 pm
Mommy apparently gets seriously "triggered" by anything not fully Leftist. Identify specific news stories you believe the CG got wrong. They did a pretty gutsy expose about how Ventura County hospitals mishandled covid patients. Drop your bias and read it... you might actually learn something. What you learn won't support your narrative of course...
5/29/2022 10:01:40 am
LOL. Bud, if you can't tell the difference between real journalism and propaganda papers, I can't help ya, Mushman.
5/29/2022 01:52:03 pm
Is the ultimate 'long game' of this group to get public funding for their parochial schools so they can teach their religion to the students?
5/29/2022 01:56:33 pm
The Conejo Guardian must also have an income source from the advertising they sell/print in their paper. Are business taxes being paid on this income?
10/22/2022 05:08:21 pm
Since they like to hide all up under Jesus' skirts,
11/4/2022 03:43:55 pm
What a vile comment to make. Agree or disagree. But to stoop to such a vile comment definitely makes anything said further suspect.
11/21/2022 08:22:58 am
Jack, I've seen your comments on Facebook and I'm not sure you're one to pretend you have some moral high ground when it comes to judging "vile" comments.
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