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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Virginia gubernatorial candidate Pete Snyder boasted about a cash haul for his COVID-19 relief nonprofit last year that was more than five times what it had estimated raising in a sworn statement to the IRS, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The Virginia 30 Day Fund's mission is central to Snyder's political brand. It's a calling card for the Republican in a crowded primary in a bellwether off-year race. But early, apparently erroneous disclosures to the IRS allowed the group to shield from public view key information about its operators, operations and finances.

What's new: Axios obtained a copy of the Virginia 30 Day Fund's application for tax exemption, dated April 10, 2020. It was signed by the group's treasurer.

  • The IRS filing, submitted under penalty of perjury, certified the group had not raised, and did not expect to raise, more than $50,000 per year during its first three years.
  • Nonprofits that bring in more than $50,000 per year are required to provide far more granular information to the IRS, including details about executive compensation, conflict of interest policies, vendor contracts and business relationships among the groups' directors.

Between the lines: Days before the filing, on April 6, Snyder told The Washington Post he and his wife had put up $100,000 in seed money for the group.

  • And on April 8, Snyder told Richmond's NBC affiliate the group had already "raised over a quarter of (a) million dollars." He repeated the same number in a Facebook post the following day.
  • By mid-June, the Virginia 30 Day Fund had raised nearly $2.8 million, according to Snyder, who in January stepped down from his position with the group and announced his run for governor.

Background: Snyder, a businessman and political consultant, formed the Virginia 30 Day Fund with his wife to provide forgivable loans to businesses struggling amid the pandemic and its resulting economic fallout.

  • Snyder's campaign website cites the nonprofit to bolster his credentials as a "true champion of small business."

What they're saying: The Snyder campaign referred questions about the discrepancies to the Virginia 30 Day Fund, which attributed them to the organization's rapid growth.

  • “The Virginia 30 Day Fund was formed in record time to help small businesses in need of a lifeline during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic," Jim Cheng, the group's chairman, said in an emailed statement.
  • "We drafted filings and started fundraising immediately to save small businesses. In fact, we named the organization '30 Day Fund' because we thought we would only be in operation for 30 days," Cheng said. "We did not anticipate at formation the overwhelming future success of the project, helping thousands of small businesses in Virginia and across the nation.”

The bottom line: Cheng did not address more specific questions about the disconnect between the information in the initial IRS filing and the details shared publicly by Snyder in the days before that filing was submitted.

Go deeper

California governor declares drought emergency for entire state

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speakinng to reporters in Los Angeles in September. Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) extended a drought emergency declaration to cover the entire state on Tuesday.

Why it matters: "California is experiencing its worst drought since the late 1800s, as measured by both lack of precipitation and high temperatures," per a statement from the governor's office. This past August was the driest and hottest one on record, "and the water year that ended last month was the second driest on record," the statement added.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate panel will recommend President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with "crimes against humanity," alleging his COVID-19 pandemic response led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, per the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The latest: The lawmakers initially said Bolsonaro should be charged with mass homicide and genocide, but lawmakers updated the report to replace these recommendations with the new charge, its lead author, Sen. Renan Calheiros, told the NYT.

Updated 6 hours ago - World

North Korea claims latest missile test new weapon launched from submarine

North Korean state media claims the country's military fired this missile on Tuesday. Photo: Korean Central News Agency

North Korean state media announced that a detected ballistic missile launch off its east coast on Tuesday was a newly developed weapon test-fired from a submarine.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches into the sea happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.