Most of us are familiar with the “Johnson Amendment” that prohibits churches from engaging in partisan political activity. Some Christians have wanted this particular amendment repealed.
It turns out, however, that Kathy Manning is the direct, intended beneficiary of a hit piece mailed by a PAC that has apparently been organized as tax-exempt under IRS rules.
The Center for Voter Information sent this mailing that highlights the positions of Manning and Budd on three issues: requiring health insurance to cover pre-existing conditions; cutting Medicaid; and cutting taxes for millionaires and corporations. The obvious intent was to help Manning, and to hurt Budd.
The organization’s own website uses generic language to claim it is trying to provide objective, unbiased information to voters.
GuideStar provides more detailed descriptions of its true agenda:
TO PROMOTE SOCIAL WELFARE INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, CONDUCTING RESEARCH ON DETERMINING HOW TO INCREASE THE SHARE OF RAE – (RISING AMERICAN ELECTORATE), DEFINED AS UNMARRIED WOMEN, YOUTH, AND PEOPLE OF COLOR IN THE ELECTORATE, DEVELOPING PUBLIC EDUCATION CAMPAIGNS THAT MOTIVATE VOTER REGISTRATION AND PARTICIPATION OF RAE, ADVOCATING FOR PUBLIC POLICY ISSUES THAT AFFECT THE LIVES OF UNMARRIED WOMEN, AND PUBLICIZING THE POSITIONS OF ELECTED OFFICIALS CONCERNING THESE ISSUES.
Its cause is described as “women’s rights”.
ProPublica states the organization is organized as a 501(c)(4) organization and again refers to “women’s rights” as its main classification.
The IRS has some specific requirements of such organizations receiving this kind of exemption. It states the following: To be operated exclusively to promote social welfare, an organization must operate primarily to further the common good and general welfare of the people of the community (such as by bringing about civic betterment and social improvements)…
The promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. However, a section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization may engage in some political activities, so long as that is not its primary activity.
It would be interesting to know how much this organization does other than helping socialist candidates like Manning. Is it truly operating within the law? It seems pretty questionable.
Moreover, is socialism inherently good for women? The basis for this organization’s existence and its political activities hinges upon this assumption. We are supposed to believe that women need socialism; and that this organization must therefore enjoy tax breaks to help them get it.
The mailer uses a Raleigh return address that traces back to a UPS store.
When this particular mailing landed in my box today, it had all the trappings of an ultra-shady, illegal activity. Those who have been involved in politics know that campaign mailings can be pretty expensive. From where did the money come, and if this is truly a 501(c)(4), are they paying taxes on those monies given the fact they are promoting candidates?
Some interesting questions.