Doxxing the Ark Valley Voice

On August 1st, 2022, Alison Brown sold the Ark Valley Voice (AVV) to Truth has a Voice Foundation (THAVF) for a whopping $10. It is believed that Alison invested at least two hundred thousand in AVV.

In the Asset Purchase Agreement you can see that the Small Business Administration loaned AVV $59.5k under the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. As part of the sale, THAVF has taken on the responsibility for that loan repayment. How could a business with hundreds of thousands in losses and a value of only $10 could qualify for $59.5k loan?

Also in the Agreement, Alison Brown agrees to lease office space in her F Street building to THAVF “in the form of an in-kind donation as described in Exhibit A”, but Exhibit A is not included in the document.

In the THAVF meeting mintues of April 27, 2023, Jan Wondra decribes the vetting of comments on the AVV website.

At the request of Director JoAnne Allen, Wondra provided a recap of current policies regarding the vetting of comments to the WordPress site and social media as well as acceptance of Letters to the Editor. Monitoring these sites is time-intensive, but functional. Egregious postings are handled on a case-by-case basis in order to retain freedom of speech rights, up to the point of receiving any personal threats.

Hmm, really? Retaining freedom of speech?

The Financial report for THAVF filed with the Colorado Secretary of State for June 30th, 2022, show THAVF net assets of only $5.6k.

New THAVF board member, Tonya Wyles, a was formerly an Army Special Operations PSYOP officer. That should come in handy.

You can read more here.

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Here it is January 2024 and they still haven’t posted their meeting minutes from August 2023 on. They still haven’t posted their financial report from June 2023.

They are asleep at the wheel.

Here’s THAVF’s filing with the Colorado Secretary of State Statement of Trade Name of a Reporting Entity on 11/28/22.

It states that THAVF’s true name is the Institute for Nonprofit News which is a foreign nonprofit corporation. Foreign means the corporation is based outside of Colorado.

The latest periodic report the Institute for Nonprofit News filed with the Colorado SoS on 11/1/23 gives their address as 8549 Wilshire Boulevard #2294 Beverly Hills CA 90211. That’s a United Mailboxes mail box rental store.

The registered agent of the Institute for Nonprofit News is Jane D Stern at 4833 Front Street, Suite B-237 Castle Rock CO 80104 which is a UPS store. Another mail box rental store.

The person who filed the periodic report is Natalie Turrey 2185 Faraday Ave Ste 120 Carlsbad CA 92008. That’s a business called Charity Compliance Solutions which helps non-profits comply with their required paperwork.

There a John Mitchell Stern in Castle Rock who uses the alias of Jane D Stern.

The only place to live on E Allen Street is the Echo Ridge apartments which is 16 minutes from the UPS store at 4833 Front Street.

At the DC Department of Licensing’s registration for the Institute for Nonprofit News, they say the beneficial owner is Sue Cross at the 8549 Wilshire Bvd address.

Sue Cross is the executive director and CEO of the Institute for Nonprofit News

The Institute for Nonprofit News has a physical address at 714 West Olympic Blvd, Suite 931, Los Angeles, CA 92010.

There web site is They say that they are non partisan.

According to INN’s 2022 tax returns, INN gave the Ark Valley Voice $16,179. That was the year that Alison Brown sold AVV for $10. Is $16k enough money to run AVV?

The CEO Sue Cross gets over $200k per year in compensation.

INN’s 2022 audit describes Truth Has a Voice Foundation’s Ark Valley Voice as a digital newsroom in central Colorado and covers local and state news around government, housing, education, economic development, the environment.

Strange. The an IRS Employer Identification Number search for Ark Valley Voice and Truth has a Voice Foundation turned up nothing.

This is AVV’s from filing with the Journalism Trust Institute.

What is the revenue of the Media Outlet?
The 2022 calendar year revenue across donations, grants, and earned income was $124,375. But in August, 2022 we became a 501.(c)(3) and our fiscal year shifted to a July 1 - June 30 fiscal year and we haven’t yet done a full fiscal tax report.

Are any of the owners active members of a political party or movement or candidates in a political
election or current office holders?

Email to Sue Cross, of INN on 2-11-24

Subject: Concerns Regarding Transparency Standards and Operations of AVV.

Dear Sue Cross,

I hope this letter finds you well. I’ve been perusing the Institute for Non-profit News (INN) website, paying particular attention to INN’s transparency standards. I am concerned that AVV may not be strictly adhering to INN member guidelines, potentially tarnishing INN’s reputation.

INN’s transparency standard asserts that “Any person relying on a nonprofit news site’s reporting should be able to easily learn the major financial supporters of the news outlet, and about its values and leadership.”

INN operates in Colorado under the trade name “Truth has a Voice Foundation (THAVF) dba Ark Valley Voice”. However, THAVF has not posted a financial report on their website since June of 2022 when they became a member of INN. Can INN provide information about who the financial supporters of AVV are? Who is fueling the journalistic endeavors of AVV?

I can identify a couple of board members of THAVF, namely Merrell Bergin and JoAnne Allen. Until November 2023, Bergin, was treasurer for the City of Salida, and Allen is chair of the local Democratic party. This raises concerns about potential conflicts of interest. Shouldn’t these affiliations outside of THAVF be subject to INN conflict of interest policies? These affiliations certainly blur the lines between the neutrality required of a newspaper and partisan politics.

In AVV’s filing with the Journalism Trust Initiative, dated 8-31-23, they claim that none of their owners are active members of a political party or current office holders. Thus, AVV’s claim of nonpartisan ownership versus the political entanglements of its founders is perplexing.

AVV also boasts a Community Advisory Board consisting of community leaders and concerned citizens who donate their time and ideas to help ensure that AVV addresses concerns and issues relevant to the people. However, it appears that Community Advisory Board members include Jan Wondra, the managing editor of AVV, and board members of THAVF. How can the managing editor and board members independently assess which issues are important to our local community, then be the ones covering the stories?

AVV adds to the diversity of our local news options and sometimes is the only outlet to cover important stories. They provide well-written, useful coverage of local news. However, I’m concerned that INN’s lack of transparency regarding the financial support and the conflicts of interest will adversely affect and tarnish the reputation of AVV and INN.

I eagerly await your response.

Response from INN received 2-12-24

Thanks for reaching out. We’ll look into this.

Devon Dunkle (she/her), Membership Manager
Institute for Nonprofit News | 407-386-3878 | ET

A couple of recent, minor changes to the THAVF website:

1.) Jan Wondra is now an Advisory (Non-Voting) Board Member.

2.) The donation page now says:
*A fiscal sponsorship relationship allows INN, as a nonprofit organization , ( Colorado Secretary of State Registration # 20181889437) to confer its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status to other nonprofit groups like Truth Has A Voice Foundation (Registration # 20228155049) to improve the quality of life in Chaffee County.

Donations to THAVF are made to INN as the fiscal sponsor. INN restricts those funds to support the activities of the Truth Has a Voice Foundation. It is INN’s responsibility to assure that the activities or projects of THAVF fulfill their charitable purpose.

I’ve been writing INN trying to figure out their relationship with Ark Valley Voice.

Here’s the response from INN regarding my joining as a for-profit newspaper:
INN’s fiscal sponsorship details can be found here. It is important to note, though, that INN only fiscally sponsors its members, and its members must be run as nonprofits, so we are likely a dead end for you as far as fiscal sponsorship goes.

I wrote again asking about Ark Valley Voice in particular:
I must apologize for my misunderstanding regarding INN’s sponsorship of for-profit newspapers. I was mistaken in assuming that INN extends fiscal sponsorship to for-profit newspapers based on it’s sponsorship of the Truth has a Voice Foundation, operating as Ark Valley Voice. Neither the IRS nor the State of Colorado recognizes Ark Valley Voice as a non-profit entity.

Here’s INN’s response:
It can be a little confusing, but INN does not accept for profit organizations as members. That being said, organizations don’t have to be incorporated as a nonprofit in their state, nor do they have to have a 501c3 status of their own. If they don’t have their own 501c3, then they need to have a 501c3 fiscal sponsor AND operate as a nonprofit would (e.g. have an advisory board, all funds are used for charitable purpose, no owner’s draw compensation structure, etc.)