Citing newly available evidence of widespread abuse of federal election laws, People For the American Way Foundation is urging the Internal Revenue Service to reject the Christian Coalition’s request for tax exempt status and begin steps to collect nine years’ worth of unpaid taxes and interest.
In a letter to the IRS today, PFAWF cites evidence that the Christian Coalition has engaged in “clearcut, serious violations” of election laws. That evidence, which is gradually moving into the public record as part of legal filings in the two-year old FEC lawsuit against the organization, shows widespread collusion and cooperation by the Christian Coalition with political campaigns. The evidence amassed on the Christian Coalition’s activities also clearly indicates that it has violated the IRS rule that prohibits tax exempt 501(c) (4) organizations from making political activity their primary purpose.
“Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition is playing a brazen game of ‘anything goes’ with the election laws and the IRS rules, and they’re doing it with what amounts to a subsidy from the taxpayers,” said Carole Shields, People For the American Way Foundation President. “If the Christian Coalition wants to participate in politics, they should be held to the same rules that apply to everyone else.”
Despite the growing evidence of wrongdoing, the Coalition has continued to operate under a provisional tax exemption granted in 1989, while the organization’s request for permanent tax exempt status remains unresolved.
Under federal election laws, a nonprofit organization may not coordinate or in any way work with or at the suggestion of federal candidates, their campaigns, or their agents in preparing, determining the content of, and distributing their voter guides. In fact, the only permissible contact is that an organization may write to federal candidates asking them to respond to a questionnaire on which their voter guides will be based and candidates may respond to the questionnaires in writing.
The information collected and released today by PFAWF, which represents only the small portion of the evidence that has become publicly available to date, shows numerous, egregious violations. The public documents, which only cover campaign activities up to 1994 so far, show the Christian Coalition crossing the line, time and again, into illegal actions. For example, the list of violations submitted to the IRS includes
“The Christian Coalition has blatantly defied the IRS rules and pretended the election laws don’t apply to them, and there’s no reason to think they’re doing anything differently today,” said Shields. “It’s time to stop this abuse.”