In response to a previous e-mail question from Monday Love, I am posting NEA information on obtaining specific grant information to presses like Tupelo or state arts agencies.http://www.arts.gov/about/FOIA/index.html
You would be able to obtain under the Freedom of Information Act a copy of the grant, look at publications funded, matching monies, budget, who was listed to be published, etc.
Another and more interesting aspect of this is the transition of literature to the internet. To that end when publishers are advertising contests and soliciting monies and running fraudulent prize contests one should be able to file a complaint to the Federal Internet Crime Complaint Center:http://www.ic3.gov/
It seems to me that Levine is doing several things: obtaining Federal monies (NEA) and running contests (numerous contests) and then one large one that promises an enormous payout for a single book: $10,000.00. He then turns around and leverages the contests one against another and sends form letters to entrants to the contests offering aditional services at additional fees while promising special treatment not available to others ( they did pay him for something) who submit to a contest not knowing of the other offer (if they didn't enter the first contest).
The NEA FOIA might be interesting to see what is on a grant application. More specific evidence would be required to file a complaint with the Internet Complaint Center. However, the fact that Allan has been able to compile a group of at least five individuals who are unhappy that they were caught up in a scheme to enter a contest, rejected with a letter they did not realize is a form letter (with duplicate flattering language which appears to refer to specific poems and lines -though some poets are baffled as to why the comments are not actually applicable to their work or the work is referred to in certain generic terms that do not seem to apply, not realizing it is a FORM LETTER), and then offered an additional review and free pass to another prize for still more money (this time $300) with checks made out not to the press but to Levine himself.
The IRS at least would be interested in this income Levine is generating for his bank account and whether or not it is reported.
It should be easy enough to find out if anyone ever received a $10,000 promised prize. Who were the winners, how long has it been around, ask the winners if they ever got money.
With a larger pool of complaints one can file a class action suit. I've always thought that would be the way to go with a situation like Iowa or Georgia, although the logistics and filings and proof of fraud are more complicated than just having a few complaints. But for a conest that has run for ten years with 2,000 entries per year (Iowa) you have a pretty good pool already. Iowa might actually be a better use of the FOIA to see the budget, what obligations they have and then consider the conduct of their actions in the contest. There may be state laws that are more applicable.
Conservative lawmakers at the Federal level have advocated for getting rid of the NEA for years. NEA funding -I think my facts are correct- has risen under Bush. If the NEA does not step forward and warn these presses or take action against the worse case scenarios then I think the NEA literature department should be eliminated. I say this because better than 60 to 80% (I would guess) of the money goes to MFA affiliated publications, presses, magazines and writers. The panelists are predominately affiliated with MFA and writing programs. These huge subsidies allow the MFA crowd, circle to keep pumping out the books without an audience, steering large percentages of funds to writers affiliated with... If most of the money is going there and panelists are not selected who have more diverse backgrounds and voices (including dissenting voices) then it is just a rubber stamp for the MFAs. I cannot count the number of MFA writers who have graduated from programs and were immediately funded for an NEA writers grant for their thesis product -often by MFA teachers, etc who sit on the panel, including their own teachers.
Iowa and presses like that should be blocked from future NEA grants until they have guidelines that comply with general consumer guidelines for running contests. The NEA should take a stand on contests and ethics and diversifying the pool of panelists.