NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) _ The organization that operates the replica sailing ship Amistad is facing questions over its reliance on taxpayer money.

State Rep. Diana Urban, a North Stonington Democrat, says she wants to know why the state is still supporting Amistad America even though it did not file federal tax returns for three years and lost its tax-exempt status, The Day of New London ( reported.

The Amistad, which was built at Mystic Seaport and launched in 2000, is a replica of the ship that became the center of a civil rights struggle after slaves took control of it during a voyage in 1839.

The replica’s original mission was to sail to destinations around the country and tell that story, but those trips are not taking place.

“When I look at this, it ruins everyone’s trust in government. They look at this and say, `Government stinks. It’s irresponsible. It’s not accountable,”’ Urban said.

Urban has asked the state Department of Economic and Community Development to justify annual payments of $359,000 to the organization.

The DECD told Urban in April that the organization was on its way to achieving financial stability through partnerships with organizations such as a New Haven nonprofit that raises awareness of human trafficking and a television production company.

The newspaper reported that Amistad America no longer has an office or website.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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