2/01/2005

NAACP Refuses To Comply With I.R.S.

In July of last year, NAACP president Julian Bond attacked President Bush in his keynote speech at the group's 95th annual convention:

NAACP Chairman Julian Bond called on members of the nation's largest and oldest civil rights organization to boost voter turnout to help oust President Bush.

During his keynote speech at the group's 95th annual convention Sunday night in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bond also assailed the Bush administration and the Republican Party, accusing the GOP of "playing the race card in election after election."

The party appeals "to the dark underside of American culture, to the minority of Americans who reject democracy and equality," Bond said. "They preach neutrality and practice racial division."
At the NAACP's 2001 convention, Bond said the following:
"[President Bush] "selected nominees from the Taliban wing of American politics, appeased the wretched appetites of the extreme right wing and chosen Cabinet officials whose devotion to the Confederacy is nearly canine in its uncritical affection."
Not a big deal, really. Lots of people have criticized the president. However, as The Washington Post points out, the NAACP isn't supposed to do that.
The NAACP is organized under section 501(c)(3) of the tax code, covering many charities, educational institutions and religious organizations. The IRS said the group is "prohibited from directly or indirectly participating or intervening in any political campaign." The IRS said the group cannot endorse a candidate, contribute to a campaign, raise money for a candidate, "distribute statements for or against a particular candidate," or become involved in activity "beneficial or detrimental to any candidate."
So, you're the NAACP. You've broken the rules that allow you to operate with a tax-exempt status and now the IRS is asking questions. What do you do?

You refuse to cooperate:
The nation's largest civil rights group is refusing to turn over documents for an Internal Revenue Service investigation into allegedly improper political activity, claiming the probe is politically motivated.

In a letter sent to the IRS Friday, the NAACP cited what it contends is evidence that the agency launched the audit before the November election because of political pressure. The group provided a copy of the letter to USA TODAY.

IRS Commissioner Mark Everson wrote to two congressional Democrats in November, saying that his agency began investigating several dozen nonprofit groups based in part on complaints from two members of Congress, whom he did not identify. The IRS is prohibited by law from identifying the subjects of audits.
Of course, the NAACP is claiming that they are the victims of a political vendetta. What seems telling to me is that no one is trying to say that Bond's words were "misinterpreted" or "taken out of context." They don't even seem to be hiding it. search of the NAACP website reveals all sorts of organization documents opposing Bush and his policies.

If the NAACP wants to send a positive message to the millions of African-Americans it purports to represent, it could do so by playing by the rules - and by accepting responsibility for the consequences of breaking them.