Society

Non-Profit White House Gift Shop Files Bankruptcy

| by Courtney Nunes

The gift shop owned by a non-profit group that helps Secret Service workers and their families has filed for bankruptcy.

According to the Washington Times, the Secret Service Uniformed Division Benefit Fund operates independently of the White House and Secret Service, and was not related to the government. The fund reportedly revealed tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise, including Christmas decorations, magnets, puzzles, paperweights and other inexpensive trinkets. 

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The fund, which traces its roots back to the 1940s, has reportedly done business as the official White House gift shop for years. The fund also lists more than $600,000 in liabilities in a pending bankruptcy petition, according to the Times.

The bankruptcy petition, reportedly filed in June, doesn’t explain why the fund went bankrupt in the first place. Court records indicate recent tax trouble and litigation, notes the Washington Times.

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Three months before filing bankruptcy, the gift shop reportedly transferred to an online store. A message on the gift shop website outlined big plans for the store’s future.

“We are especially pleased to announce the forthcoming White House Gift Shop patriotic themed indoor park, gift shop megastore, two themed restaurants, and a full-service International Guest Center in downtown DC with project completion in 2018,” the site reads.

The website also linked to a section in which customers could make a donation to the fund.

However, the fund has since filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, notes the Times, and is now liquidating.

According to annual spending reports to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 2011, the non-profit fund spent $10,550 for golf, soccer and hockey tournaments for employees, $5,330 for luncheons for new graduates and their families and $1,108 for flowers and fruit baskets for funerals and hospitalized members.

That same year, according to CitizenAudit.org, the fund lost $24,000. The reported revenue for 2011 was $273,000, which was down from $365,000 reported revenue in 2008.

In its final efforts to pay back creditors, the fund is attempting to sell off more than 7,000 Chrismans ornaments. According to the Times, this would require the gift shop to sell ornaments at more than $50,000 each. A trustee for the fund noted that the ornaments are not likely to sell at more than $5,600 apiece. 

Source: Washington Times