TeenPacters Speak Up: A Series by Between Black and White
HA note: This series is reprinted with permission from Between Black and White. Part Eleven was originally published on May 25, 2013.
Part Eleven: TeenPact Needs Integrity, Not Money, by Starfury
TeenPact is an organisation started in 1994 by Tim Echols in an effort to “turn students into statesmen.” In 1996, he formed Family Resources Network, of which TeenPact became a part.  Family Resources Network is a tax-exempt non-profit organisation.  As such, there are specific tenets that it needs to follow, particularly pertaining to support for political campaigns. Organisations with a 501(c)(3) status are restricted from engaging in political campaign activity. 
In 2010, an ethics complaint was made, partially regarding the amount of involvement TeenPact and TeenPact Students had during the election in question. “Student Project” is the name that was given to the campaigns Tim Echols (and others involved with his organisation, albeit with his blessing) decided his students should support. Be it for a handful of days, or a whole week, he would gather TeenPact students to come and spend long days campaigning for those running for office. Publicly, TeenPact refused to associate with the various “Student Projects.” The keyword here is “publicly.”
Many emails inside the organisation tell a different story. Here are a few excerpts of the many emails that I, and several others, have received. I have removed the names of most individuals and states, to protect their privacy at this time. These were all sent to TeenPact email lists: some staffing, some state specific, others had a wider base.
For those who could afford to travel to these events and pay the fees associated therewith, it was essentially a TeenPact event. I, for one, was told when I arrived that it was not an “official” TeenPact event, but we were held subject to the same TeenPact Appropriate rules – dress, media, behaviour, etc. The only distinguishing factor was that rather than be at a class, we were on a campaign trail.
Here follow seven examples spanning from 2006 to 2010 (about which time those who have been willing to contribute thus far stopped receiving TeenPact emails):
Date: Jul 12, 2010 8:21 PM
Subject: Your new TeenPact State Coordinator!
Dear [State] TeenPact family,
…It has truly been a blessing serving with you, whether we were in a TeenPact class together at our state capitol, or knocking on doors during a [State] Student Project! […] However, due to necessity of the [STATE] TP state coordinator actually living in [state] […] I now formally introduce Mr. [Name] as the next TP [State] State Co.! […] Mr. [Name] is now fully plugged in with the TP home office and will be running (or delegating any leadership roles) any state class or [State] Student Project from now on, and he assures us all that he is ready to go!
From: Tim Echols
Date: Mon, May 10, 2010 at 8:02 PM
Subject: Echols running for PSC
By now, you have probably heard about my statewide campaign for Public Service Commission. Please join our facebook group tonight at http://tiny.cc/cgy7i if you have time.
More importantly, I am looking for hundreds of students who can be a part of five different projects we are putting together. See attached. I need moms to drive and host families to host. It will be hot, and a lot of work, but we can win this seat.
We are having a Sunday night prayer call at 8pm every Sunday night after church as well. Let me know if you can join that.
www.timechols.com (if you can make a small donation I would be very grateful)
PS We are having a call tomorrow and Wednesday to discuss the projects. Email me for the number and code.
Date: May 25, 2007 7:37 PM
Subject: Concerning TeenPact, this years[sic] Student Project, and [Name]!!
It was so great to see you all at the TeenPact class. […] Because her seat is now vacant, there is going to be a special election held on June 12th. Mrs. [Name], a very godly and conservative lady, is running as the Republican candidate, and we have been asked, and given the opportunity to help her get elected! We are going to be working out of the GOP headquarters in [Capitol] on June 9th, 11th, and 12th. The state of [State], [Name], and I, need your help in order to “pull this off”! Therefore, if you want to put your recently honed and sharpened TeenPact skills to work for both our State and God’s kingdom, then please respond to [email] and let me know which day or days, you can come.
Date: May 23, 2007 11:24 AM
Subject: [City] Project
My Fellow Teenpacters, it is my pleasure to invite you to join Mr. Tim Echols and myself and many others as we do some grassroots campaigning in North [State] June 13th through the 19th for Dr. [Name]’s run for Congress. We will be focusing primarily on door to door campaigning during the week and this will be a great opportunity to apply the civic skills you have learned through TeenPact in an actual political environment.
From: Tim Echols
Date: Tue, Mar 13, 2007 at 11:26 AM
Subject: campaign in [City]
Dear TeenPact Campaign Veterans,
Dr. [Name], a good friend, is running for Congress here in a special election to occur June 19th. There will be a Student Project put together for this campaign. We need several paid staff for that.
Additionally, we need staff now that would like to come over and live here. This is also paid.
Please let me know if you are interested. I am giving significant personal time to this so we will be interacting regularly.
Please hit reply all if you are interested and let us know your availability and financial needs.
From: The TeenPact Times Staff [official @teenpact.com address]
Date: Mar 1, 2007 2:24 PM
Subject: The TeenPact Times: March Edition
Vote Yes for Life in [State]!
In September of last year, about twenty students headed out to South Dakota to campaign for the referendum to ban abortion in the state. […] The following is an interview with [Name].
1) [Name], when it looked like TeenPact was not going to be able to mobilize students to go to [State], you wrote Mr. Echols a long note urging him not to give up.
I believe that abortion unless stopped, will cause the destruction of our great nation. I believe God told me to take a stand. Helping the Vote Yes for Life campaign was part of it.
2) How many students wound up going and approximately what did it cost to get them there?
Twenty-one students went to South Dakota. It cost us around $450.00 per attendee that totalled around $9450.00
*TeenPact thanks the many donors who made the trip to South Dakota possible. Special thanks to Don Wildmon of AFA, Joe Brinck of the Sanctity of Life Foundation, and the Arlington Group in Washington D.C.
[The following was sent to an email list of TeenPact Staffers]
From: Tim Echols
Date: Oct 4, 2006, 1:14 AM
On behalf of the Governor, I would like to invite you to the Governor [Name] “Student Project.”
Space is limited to 100 students, so go to www.studentproject.net and print out your application today. Parents, we need you too. Please fill out an application as well.
[Name] is our program director, and I’ll be there the entire time as well.
I hope you’ll join me in helping Governor [Name] win another term in office.
(1) – http://teenpact.com/about/statement-of-faith/
(2) – http://teenpact.com/about/statement-of-faith/
(3) – http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/election_year_phone_forum_slides.pdf
End of series.
They should have their 501(c)(3) status revoked. The IRS turns a blind eye to religious organizations that get involved in politics. Sigh.