[Placed in the public domain, copying and widespread circulation are encouraged]
Obama’s Sword of Damocles: October Surprise Won’t Surprise Us
Looming Scandal Will “Toricelli” Barack Obama After Democratic National Convention
The Democratic Party’s superdelegates, even those who have endorsed Barack Obama, need to do some serious reconsideration between now and the convention. Should Obama become the nominee, the Democrats are likely to find themselves in the same situation as they did with Robert Toricelli (D-NJ) in 2002. As described by Wikipedia (more information at the Washington Post),
In the middle of an increasingly competitive race against Republican Doug Forrester, Torricelli decided not to run for reelection after disclosure of illegal contributions to his campaign by David Chang, a businessman connected to North Korea. In a speech, Torricelli stated that despite his leaving public office in a different way than he planned, he was proud of his service.
The Democratic Party then had to persuade the New Jersey Supreme Court to bypass the deadline for ballot changes to replace Toricelli with Frank Lautenberg. It is more than likely that the Democrats will find themselves in the same situation this year if Obama becomes the nominee, because of Obama’s questionable use of the United Church of Christ’s tax exempt resources to support his campaign. The Internal Revenue Service is currently investigating Obama’s church and, depending on when it announces its findings, it will render Obama unelectable or (should be be elected before the IRS announces its findings), leave him with a crippled and scandal-ridden Presidency.
It is already a matter of record that a scandal involving misuse of tax-exempt resources to support a political campaign can destroy an entire organization and even a Presidential campaign. In 2000, the 501(c)(3) tax exempt Million Mom March promoted House candidates on its “Apple Pie Award” Web page while relegating pro-Second Amendment legislators to the “Time Out Chair.” This was brought to the attention of a pro-Second Amendment columnist who published the following column:
May 10, 2000
Perhaps they need a background check on their tax knowledge
By J.R. Labbe
Knight Ridder Newspapers
But while the dot-com demonstrators attempt to convince lawmakers (who won’t be anywhere near Capitol Hill on a weekend) that they echo the majority voice of American motherhood, keep this in mind:
The Million Mom March is violating federal law.
At least that’s the view from here. Hardly a soul can question the organization’s political nature. Just check out its Web site, with the “Time Out Chair,” which threatens to unseat politicians who don’t vote the way MMM wants.
“Come Mothers’ Day, we mothers will stand together on the mall of Capitol Hill to remind your PRO-GUN House that on Election Day, the voters will stand by our children,” writes Rene King of Kentucky, in a letter posted by MMM castigating House Majority Whip Tom DeLay.
Or how about the Mom’s Apple Pie Awards, serving up sugary kisses to “Rep. Joe Hoeffel, D-Pa., who plans to co-sponsor a bill next year, along with Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., that would require the licensing of handgun owners and the registration of handguns. It would also require gun purchasers to undergo background checks, take a gun safety course, and wait three days before acquiring a gun. … It will be up to us to convince Congress to pass it.”
….MMM has every right to champion politicians who support its cause and torment those who don’t. It can even lobby Congress for more gun control. But not as a nonprofit organization that receives preferential tax-exempt status.
Again, MMM’s Web site: “We have 501-c(3) status as a nonprofit tax entity …. Contributions are tax deductible.”
How can this be, you ask, when federal tax law expressly prohibits 501(c)(3) nonprofits from engaging in political activity?
According to the Internal Revenue Service’s frequently asked-questions list: “501(c)(3) organizations may not engage in political activity, including endorsing candidates, but other organizations, such as 501(c)(4) organizations, may engage in political activity so long as that is not their primary activity.”
Had the National Rifle Association used its immense resources to follow up on this instead of preaching to the choir about how the MMM’s Mother’s Day rally was a “thinly disguised campaign for Al Gore,” the gun control movement would probably have been wiped off the face of the earth in 2000 along with many of the legislators who attached their names to it. As it was, the Million Mom March reacted visibly to Labbe’s piece with obviously desperate efforts at damage control. The damage control didn’t work. Other tax exempt entities, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, distanced themselves from the Million Mom March while outraged donors, who were not told the real use to which their money was being put, cut off funding. The result was that the Million Mom March was so badly crippled that it could not help Al Gore get those few hundred votes he needed in Florida, so this scandal might arguably have decided the 2000 election (in combination with Gore blowing Tennessee, West Virginia, and Arkansas all on his own). The Million Mom March liquidated the next year, possibly to avoid the scandal of a formal IRS revocation of its 501(c)(3) status.
Like the Million Mom March, the United Church of Christ is a tax-exempt entity that is explicitly not permitted to use its resources, or allow their use, on behalf of any candidate for public office, and the IRS is investigating it for exactly the same reason–with Barack Obama bearing the primary responsibility.
Obama’s General Synod speech prompts IRS to investigate UCC’s tax-exempt status
Written by J. Bennett Guess
February 26, 2008
The Internal Revenue Service has notified the United Church of Christ’s national offices in Cleveland, Ohio, that the IRS has opened an investigation into U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s address at the UCC’s 2007 General Synod as the church engaging in “political activities.”
In the IRS letter dated Feb. 20, the IRS said it was initiating a church tax inquiry “because reasonable belief exists that the United Church of Christ has engaged in political activities that could jeopardize its tax-exempt status.“
The “political activities” in question involve Barack Obama’s “A Politics of Conscience,” which he delivered at the UCC’s 50th anniversary General Synod in Hartford, Conn., on June 23, 2007. The UCC says that Obama agreed beforehand that his speech would contain no campaign-related content, but a transcript of “A Politics of Conscience” shows extensive campaign-related content. Furthermore, the speech was apparently pre-written; in other words, Obama did not get carried away in the heat of the moment, forget himself, and talk about his Presidential ambitions. If the UCC’s statements are accurate, Obama chose in advance to break his word to his own church, violate its trust, and get it into trouble with the IRS. If the IRS releases its findings before November, it is the end of Obama’s candidacy. If it releases them afterward (assuming that Obama wins the election), his Presidency will be a sick practical joke on the American people.
The UCC posting says,
“The United Church of Christ took great care to ensure that Senator Obama’s appearance before the 50th anniversary General Synod met appropriate legal and moral standards,” Thomas told United Church News. “We are confident that the IRS investigation will confirm that no laws were violated.”
Before Obama spoke to the national gathering of 10,000 UCC members, Associate General Minister Edith A. Guffey, who serves as administrator of the biennial General Synod, admonished the crowd that Obama’s appearance was not to be a campaign-related event and that electioneering would not be tolerated. No political leaflets, signs or placards were allowed, and activity by the Obama campaign was barred from inside the Hartford Civic Center venue.
We assume that Obama heard this as well, but he chose to go ahead and electioneer anyway. Furthermore, ”IRS Investigation: A Test Of Church’s Faith?” by UCC minister Davida Foy Crabtree in the Hartford Courant asserts
Our purpose in inviting Sen. Obama in the spring of 2006 — long before he was a candidate for the presidency — was to ask him to address the connection between his Christian faith and his public service, to speak to us of the challenges for people of faith in the public square today. And he did so with eloquence. As a prominent member of our church, his was a natural invitation, just as the others were. To avoid any hint of endorsement or promotion, our national officers and our denominational attorney established clear understandings with Sen. Obama’s office in Washington. He readily agreed to all of them. We made it clear not only to his campaign staff but also to our own synod delegates and visitors that no advocacy or promotion of his candidacy would be permitted.
(1) Barack Obama and his campaign staff were told of the rules ahead of time.
(2) Barack Obama understood and agreed to these rules.
(3) As shown by “A Politics of Conscience,” he chose to violate these rules after indicating his understanding and agreement, thus getting the UCC into trouble with the IRS.
A Politics of Conscience
Written by Senator Barack Obama
June 23, 2007
In other words, he wrote it ahead of time, with the full knowledge that electioneering on tax exempt church resources was forbidden, as opposed to forgetting himself in the heat of the moment.
…It’s been several months now since I announced I was running for president. In that time, I’ve had the chance to talk with Americans all across this country. And I’ve found that no matter where I am, or who I’m talking to, there’s a common theme that emerges. It’s that folks are hungry for change – they’re hungry for something new. They’re ready to turn the page on the old politics and the old policies – whether it’s the war in Iraq or the health care crisis we’re in, or a school system that’s leaving too many kids behind despite the slogans.
…Our conscience can’t rest so long as 37 million Americans are poor and forgotten by their leaders in Washington and by the media elites. We need to heed the biblical call to care for “the least of these” and lift the poor out of despair. That’s why I’ve been fighting to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and the minimum wage. If you’re working forty hours a week, you shouldn’t be living in poverty. But we also know that government initiatives are not enough. Each of us in our own lives needs to do what we can to help the poor. And until we do, our conscience cannot rest.
Our conscience cannot rest so long as nearly 45 million Americans don’t have health insurance and the millions more who do are going bankrupt trying to pay for it. I have made a solemn pledge that I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family’s premiums by up to $2500 a year. That’s not simply a matter of policy or ideology – it’s a moral commitment.
Compare this to Dr. Crabtree’s statement, “To avoid any hint of endorsement or promotion, our national officers and our denominational attorney established clear understandings with Sen. Obama’s office in Washington. He readily agreed to all of them. We made it clear not only to his campaign staff but also to our own synod delegates and visitors that no advocacy or promotion of his candidacy would be permitted.”
The Internal Revenue Service’s letter to the UCC alleges not only that Barack Obama delivered a speech with campaign-related content as described above, but also that his supporters–again contrary to the rules to which he and his campaign agreed–staffed campaign tables outside the event. The IRS writes, “In addition, 40 Obama volunteers staffed campaign tables outside the center to promote his campaign.”
We can reach only one conclusion, we think the public will agree with us, and we think this scandal is enough by itself to end Barack Obama’s campaign.
(1) The United Church of Christ invited Barack Obama, as a prominent public figure, “to reflect on the intersection of [his] faith and …respective vocations or fields of expertise.”
(2) In doing so, the UCC reminded Obama and his staff that, as a tax-exempt religious institution, it could not allow any election-related activity.
(3) Obama and his staff said they understood this condition and promised to observe it.
(4) Obama then wrote a speech that he knew violated the condition to which he had agreed, while his campaign allegedly staffed campaign tables around the church meeting, again in violation of the rules to which the Obama campaign had agreed.
Note that all of the above information consists of objective evidence, such as the IRS’s letter and material directly from the United Church of Christ itself. It did not come from the Clinton or McCain camp, and therefore cannot possibly be construed as a “smear” of Barack Obama–even though his backers like Jeremiah “God Damn America” Wright construe any criticism of their behavior as a smear, racism, or both.