Potential conflicts of interest in the formation and operation of Arizona School Tuition Organizations
My thesis offers original research is in its direct analysis of the IRS conflict of interest regulations and their applicability to STOs, its discussion of my experience setting up an STO, and my interviews of State Legislators as a primary source. The primary goals of my investigation are to 1. Determine the regulations and standards that exist to prevent conflicts of interest in the operation of Arizona STOs. 2. Examine instances of alleged conflicts of interest encountered by STO operators. 3. Discuss the ethical implications of STO operator actions in situations of conflicts of interest. And 4. Propose legislative solutions to remove any and all conflicts of interest. From my examination of financial records and from my interviews with other state legislators, I have concluded that Arizona Christina School Tuition Organization is violating IRS regulations by operating with an objective of conferring on its director a private benefit. The STO I helped form, ------------- STO will need to carefully document its expenses and contracts to justify its overhead margin or else risk running afoul of the same IRS regulations. Even if an STO like ------------- STO, is allowed by Arizona law to have an overhead margin of 10%, those expenses must be justified, particularly if they confer a private benefit to restricted persons. Ultimately, even if an STO deliberately flouts IRS regulations regarding private benefits realized by "disqualified" persons, it is highly unlikely that the STO will face IRS scrutiny. Therefore, there exist sufficient federal regulatory safeguards to prevent financial conflicts of interest among Arizona STO board members, but such regulations are not sufficiently enforced to prevent those conflicts of interest.