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Carl Channell and Richard Miller  Fundraisers

Among the private actors heavily involved in Oliver North’s contra support network were fundraisers Carl Channell and Richard Miller. Channell founded the National Endowment for the Preservation of Liberty (NEPL) in 1984, and Miller joined his fundraising activities in support of the Contras in 1985.

NEPL was exempted from paying U.S. taxes under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, which covers groups organized for “religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary or educational” purposes. However, in violation of their tax-exempt status, they gave contra military leader Adolfo Calero $50,000 directly. In order to maintain greater secrecy, Miller later transferred $1.7 million to Richard Secord’s and Albert Hakim’s covert Swiss accounts. In addition, Channell and Miller wrote a $200,000 check to an Arab leader who promised to fund the Contras. Because much of this money was being used to buy weapons, it was a violation of the laws governing the tax-exempt NEPL.

As a result, Channell pleaded guilty in 1987 to one felony count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and received two years’ probation in return for cooperation with ongoing investigations. Shortly thereafter, Miller pleaded guilty to the same crime, receiving two years’ probation and 100 hours of community service. Both testified at North’s trial, but a jury nevertheless acquitted North of the charge of conspiracy to commit tax fraud.

Although briefings that included speakers such as President Ronald Reagan and White House Chief of Staff Donald Regan were held for major NEPL donors in 1985 and 1986, and although other donors were given thank-you letters by White House officials, there is no direct evidence that anyone in the White House knew that the money raised by the tax-exempt organization was being used to purchase illegal weapons. Thus, Walsh brought no charges against them on this ground.