Supervisor Bill Horn denies wrongdoing in claim he mixed real estate deals with nonprofit group

SAN DIEGO - San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn is denying he broke the law, and he said a report that says otherwise is based on "unsubstantiated and potentially defamatory claims."

A month-long investigation by 10News' media partner inewsource shows Horn paid $25 for a charity which he named the Basic Faith Foundation, and he used that foundation to hold money from his numerous real estate deals, donating some of the interest to missionaries south of the border.

"I do support the same groups, but I don't have my own foundation anymore," Horn told inewsource.

Horn dissolved the decades-old foundation in 2012 after the IRS took away its nonprofit status.

Five different experts in tax law and nonprofits told inewsource they believed Horn broke the law by using the organization for real estate deals and by not filing annual reports with the IRS.

Horn's own attorney said there was nothing illegal about the transactions, most of which happened so long ago there isn't a paper trail.

James Sutton wrote in a letter to inewsource: "The legal conclusions expressed by the "experts" you contacted might have been based on nonprofit, tax or disclosure laws in place today, even though the transactions and reports at issue of course took place decades ago."

Sutton wrote that Horn didn't file tax returns for the nonprofit because he didn't have to: "Basic Faith did not, to Supervisor Horn's recollection, raise or spend more than $25,000 in any year, and therefore would not have been required to file IRS Form 990s."

"There is no legal or factual basis for your claim that the "operation" was "Illegal," wrote Sutton, who in a later letter threatened legal action, claiming the report was "defamatory."

"Our client has asked us to investigate all possible legal options available to him at this time," Sutton wrote.

Horn, who is running for his sixth term as a county supervisor, was not available for comment.

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