IRS probes NAACP after Bond's anti-Bush talk
October 29, 2004
BY TONY PUGH
FREE PRESS WASHINGTON STAFF
WASHINGTON -- The Internal Revenue Service is investigating whether a speech by NAACP Chairman Julian Bond in July that criticized the Bush administration violated a federal law that prohibits tax-exempt charitable organizations from engaging in most forms of political activity.
Bond said he felt the probe was politically motivated and meant to have a chilling effect on the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, in particular its efforts to register black voters, who support U.S. Sen. John Kerry overwhelmingly.
Bond is wrong, IRS Commissioner Mark Everson responded.
"Career civil servants, not political appointees, make these decisions in a fair, impartial manner," he said.
In a letter released Thursday, the IRS cited a federal law that prohibits tax-exempt charitable organizations "from intervening in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office."
The letter dated Oct. 8 said Bond had made "statements in opposition of George W. Bush for the office of presidency" and specifically condemned Bush on education, the economy and Iraq.
On Thursday, Bond defended his remarks, saying they focused on policy, not politics.
Bond told the civil rights group's annual convention in Philadelphia in July that the election "is a contest between two widely disparate views of who we are and what we believe. One view wants to march us backward ... surrendering control of government to special interests, weakening democracy, giving religion veto power over science, curtailing civil liberties, despoiling the environment.
"The other view promises expanded democracy and giving the people, not plutocrats, control over their government."
If Bond's speech is found to have violated federal law, the NAACP could lose its tax-exempt status, which could severely limit its ability to attract donations.