While OGWA promotes itself as the top organization of its kind for the energy industry, records indicate that only a tiny fraction of its membership claims pay dues.
An Odessa-based non-profit “Oil and Gas Workers Association (OGWA)” suddenly gained national attention last year, with a claim the organization boasts 46,000 members. This large membership claim helped propel it into national prominence as a major authority on energy policy and focused a media spotlight on the man behind the organization, Matt Coday.
But partial financial records, as well as statements made by Coday himself have continued to draw a picture that he and the organization may be all hat and no cattle — the dues paying kind that is.
Odessa Headlines reported last year on Coday, after he made lewd sexist comments against State Republican Executive Committee-woman (SREC) Tisha Crow, and came under organizational allegations from past board members citing concerns regarding how Coday was running OGWA – including his refusal to turn financials and bylaws over to board members.
Coday’s comments were made during an argument in which his criminal records, including theft related charges were discussed.
This prompted Odessa Headlines to submit a request for Coday’s public non-profit records, a request he continues to refuse. Coday has even claimed he turned the requested records over via email (nothing was attached) when he did not, going so far as to deny reading about our records request in the prior story when confronted.
Federal law requires non-profit organizations to turn over financial records for those that gross over $50,000 in a year. Coday did respond to Odessa Headlines revealing that for the two years of IRS filings since he incorporated OGWA in April of 2020, he has filed IRS Form 990N, which simply shows he is in the under $50,000 category that isn’t required to give details.
State law has much more stringent public record disclosure laws for non-profits, requiring them to make a detailed accounting of their revenue and expenditures available to the public on request, barring a few exceptions.
The Texas Secretary of State details that section 22.353 of the Business Organizations Code requires “certain nonprofit corporations to make all records, books, and annual reports of financial activity available to the general public for inspection and copying.”
Those records are detailed in the statute as, “A corporation shall maintain current and accurate financial records with complete entries as to each financial transaction of the corporation, including income and expenditures, in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.”
Despite Coday claiming he has consulted with an attorney and the Texas Attorney General on what must be disclosed, he has not turned over a detailed accounting. He has not claimed his organization is small enough to qualify for an exception, and if he did that would open a barrel of other questions regarding problematic claims his organization makes.
According to member rates at the time of our prior story, OWGA charged $6 per month, or $60 per year to become a member.
Multiplying this $60 per year fee times the 46,000 members claimed, and one can quickly see why these major membership claims should easily put the organization over $50,000 in annual revenue, which would easily subject him to state and federal disclosure rules.
After publication of our story, Coday began walking back the details of OGWA’s membership claims on social media, writing that a “majority” of the membership was built off of “free sign up.”
Previous board members have told Odessa Headlines they were under the impression the membership claim was based on a mass email list that was cobbled together largely or in part from other sources.
When asked whether some 97 percent plus of his membership is based on these “free sign ups,” Coday did not respond.
In fact, Coday has told others how OGWA only had one paid membership yielding $60.00 at the end of 2021. Within several months, press releases from Republican campaigns across the nation were hitting the news about their endorsements by the “45,000” member OGWA.
However, Coday has also said OGWA receives thousands in revenue from non-member dues related sources which would help subject them to records disclosure requirements. How much money is received cannot be known for certain until he releases the financial records, or the government audits them.
Public lobbying records on file with the Texas Ethics Commission show OGWA has three separate contracts to hire a state lobbyist and agreed to potentially pay between $18,360 to $46,579.99 per contract, which gives some insight into OGWA’s financial resources.
Coday also engages in lobbying efforts in other states, per his claims.
According to the IRS, members of 501 C (6) nonprofits are characteristically defined by paying dues, and a member’s support should be at a meaningful level.
“An IRC 501(c)(6) organization is a membership organization characteristically supported by dues. While such an organization may receive a substantial portion or even the primary part of its income from non-member sources, membership support, both in the form of dues and involvement in the organization’s activities, must be at a meaningful level.”Source: Internal Revenue Service
Since publication of our story last year, Coday has frequently taken to social media claiming the story (which he stated he didn’t read in its entirety to avoid acknowledging the public records request) cost OGWA “at least $1.2 million in pledged and anticipated revenue” in November in addition to launching numerous personal accusations.
This would mean Coday anticipated a roughly 2400 percent increase in growth in that month from the previous year’s revenue.
He frequently uses these extraordinary talking points in an ongoing attempt to characterize Odessa Headlines as “fake news” while deflecting from the serious questions he faces.
Ultimately, the numerous grandiose claims being made, including being regarded the number one oil and gas association in the nation leave much to be explained when other organizations can readily prove up financial resources and dues paying membership levels that leave OGWA in the dust, starting with having more than $50,000 in gross annual revenue.
The public has a right to know the truth behind an organization and its figurehead who is seeking to influence public policy at the local, state, and national levels, and whether the claim of having 46,000 members an honest portrayal of his association and who he speaks on behalf of.