Saturday, October 30, 2004

NAACP Questions IRS Examination

The Internal Revenue Service is examining the non-profit status of the highly respected civil rights organization, the NAACP, because of a speech made by its chairman, Julian Bond, at the NAACP national convention last July, in which Bond criticized the policies of President George Bush. The Washington Post of Oct. 29 reports:

An IRS document dated Oct. 8 said that at the group's annual convention in Philadelphia in July, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People may have violated the restriction on political activity because it "distributed statements in opposition of George W. Bush for the presidency."

"Specifically in a speech made by Chairman Julian Bond, Mr. Bond condemned the administration policies of George W. Bush on education, the economy and the war in Iraq," said an IRS "information document request" sent with the letter.

The IRS asked for the cost of the convention, including a "listing of all expense" and the "names and addresses of each board member and indicate how each voted."

An NAACP press release protested this action, noting that it has criticized both Republican and Democrat presidents. Julian Bond commented:

The NAACP has always been non-partisan, but that doesn’t mean we’re non-critical. Only in an Orwellian world would honest disagreement be considered partisan, or honest differences called election interference.

Indeed. If organizations can no longer criticize the policies of the president without their non-profit status being endangered, then where does that leave us? Environmental groups cannot criticize Bush's Clear Skies initiative, educational associations cannot criticize the poor funding of the "No Child Left Behind" act, and civil rights groups cannot comment on Bush's policies toward minority groups? On the other hand are the conservative think tanks who freely behave as surrogates for the Republican party, yet no IRS investigation of their non-profit status is forthcoming.

This IRS action is an abuse of its power in order to suppress criticism of President Bush.


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