IRS “Targeted” Catholic League

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

140px-US-InternalRevenueService-SealBill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, writes: “Just weeks after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, I was notified by the IRS that the Catholic League was under investigation for violating the IRS Code on political activities as it relates to 501(c)(3) organizations.” So, that would be when George W. Bush was the President. The recent media attention directed towards IRS investigations of Tea Party, 501(c)(4), organizations, was just too enticing for Donohue. For 501(c)(3) organizations, the IRS requires that the organization “may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.” It might be interesting to see how well the Catholic League upheld its commitment to this requirement.

Unlike 501(c)(4) organizations, donations to 501(c)(3) organizations are generally tax-exempt. In return for this benefit, these organization agree to the IRS terms and conditions. The language in the IRS specifically designates “political candidates” as being off limits.

However, the September 2008 issue of Catalyst, the journal of the Catholic League, in an article entitled “OBAMA’S PUBLIC POLICY BLUNDERS,” Donohue wrote:

Recently, Sen. Obama has disappointed Catholics again. This time regarding his public policies on school vouchers, faith-based initiatives and selective infanticide.

In the October 2008 issue, Donohue writes of then-candidate Nancy Pelosi: “Pelosi is wildly out of touch with the Catholic Church.” Donohue writes of vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden: “As the only Catholic on either ticket, Biden could have been a real asset to Obama, but instead he has become a liability.” Donohue defends Keith Fimian, the Republican candidate for Virginia’s 11th Congressional District. Donohue also defends Sarah Palin by noting: “Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s religion has come under severe scrutiny. Unfortunately, some of the coverage has been downright unfair.”

What was the result of the IRS investigation? Acdording to Donohue:

In the end, the IRS concluded that although the Catholic League had “intervened in a political campaign,” it was “unintentional, isolated, non-egregious and non-recurring”; our tax-exempt status remained intact.

Donohue responds:

I intentionally addressed political issues, and did not intervene in the campaign …

However, Donohue’s legal accumen seems to differ from that of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Office of General Counsel, who offers this advice:

A Catholic organization may not directly or indirectly make any statement, in any medium, to endorse, support, or oppose any candidate for public office, political party, or PAC. [Treas. Reg. § 1.501(c)(3)-1(c)(3)(iii).]

Nonprofit attorney Gene Takagi agrees with that interpretation. Takagi writes that 501(c)(3) organizations “cannot make endorsements (whether in support or in opposition to a candidate); and cannot allow the use of the organization’s resources without giving equal opportunity to other candidates.”

If Donohue wants to issue his political opinions regarding candidates, he is free to give up his organization’s tax-exempt benefit.

H/T: Steve M., David Weigel.

40 thoughts on “IRS “Targeted” Catholic League”

  1. I think Mr. Donohue in this clips has shown what an odious person he is..

  2. Seeing that the Church enjoys to dabble into the realm of Caesars…
    … Isn’t it about time the Church start paying some back to Caesar?

    I wonder if Bill Donohue can quote Jesus about what is God’s and what is Caesar’s.

    He’s still refusing to sell everything in violation of Jesus’ instruction…
    … But what can one expect from a man who prefers to judge his brother instead of obeying Christ’s commandment to NOT judge.

  3. Absolutely correct. My CPA told me his small biz clients would get audited much more frequently. The IRS is the classic bully, picking on those who don’t have the resourses to fight their mammoth clout. They’ll be handling our healthcare soon.

  4. Quite apart from Bill Donahue and the Catholic League, this article highlights the more general issue of having the IRS, a not entirely unblemished agency in terms of integrity and political neutrality, tasked with determining tax exemption status using largely subjective criteria. Why have the government involved at all? It has been problematic in the past, and remains so today. It creates a collision course for free speech, religious freedom, individual privacy, political preference, freedom of association, and economic freedom to meet head on with tax policy implemented through a cumbersome tax code that some could argue, has become nearly unintelligible.

    I say get rid of it all. Go to a fair tax, a flat tax, a negative income tax, or almost any other uniform system other than what we now have. With the additional tax implementations of Obamacare on the immediate horizon, this is the time to simplify, rather than complexify by adding yet more patchwork layers on top of the 73,000+ pages of convoluted regulations that now comprise the tax code.

  5. Can one of the guest bloggers check for me- I had a posting regarding this thread and specific to Mr. Donohue that seems to have disappeared. I think it was even here when I posted discussing the possible need for a separate ‘suggestions’ thread (or not) but it’s gone now.

  6. The Catholic League has a long history of trying to influence politics which goes back far before Mr.Donohue became their leader. It is interesting that the IRS never seems to go after those who have the ability to strike back at them politically. Many who make comments about the current “IRS Scandal” seem blithely unaware that the IRS is quite lame in dealing with actual abusers and consistently focuses one the “little guy”. Thus Joe Louis and Willie Nelson get bankrupted, while the really rich cheats get off Scot free. One such cheat just ran for President.

  7. “Many countries around the world have introduced government health systems since 1945, but, as I wrote here last year, “only in America does ‘health’ ‘care’ ‘reform’ begin with the hiring of 16,500 new IRS agents tasked with determining whether your insurance policy merits a fine.”

    So now not only are your books and Facebook posts legitimate tax issues but so is your hernia, and your prostate, and your erectile dysfunction. Next time round, the IRS will be able to leak your incontinence pads to George Soros.

    Big Government is erecting a panopticon state — one that sees everything, and regulates everything. It’s great “customer service,” except that you can never get out of the store.

    Read More At Investor’s Business Daily:


    In the interview, Donohue drifted back to his Jews run Hollywood meme: “Hollywood has a real problem of anti-Catholicism. It’s in the movie industry, all right? Do we need to go through this one more time? I’m so interested that the sensitivity mavens now are so concerned about anti-Semitism, as they should be. And they should have hammered Mel Gibson. But are we just going to leave this on the table, now that there’s another problem in Hollywood? How about if they clean up their act toward Catholics?”

    Of those who won’t forgive Gibson, Donohue said: “Who gives a damn about those people?” Donohue then asked, “What kind of blood do they want out of this man?”

    Donohue recently told fellow defender-of-the-faith, Pat Buchanan — subbing for host Joe Scarborough on MSNBC’s “Scarborough Country” — that the reason “The Passion” wouldn’t get its just due is because Hollywood “is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular.”
    Here’s part of their conversation:

    BUCHANAN: … Bill Donohue, what do you think about “The Passion of the Christ”? And as a practical matter, even if Hollywood hated the film, it seems to me as an artistic work of art, a smashing triumph, a film of great controversy and interest, it ought to at least be nominated for best picture. It pulled in more money than any other picture all year.

    DONOHUE: I spoke to Mel a couple of weeks ago about this. And I don’t think it really matters a whole lot to him. It certainly doesn’t matter to me. We’ve already won.

    Who really cares what Hollywood thinks? All these hacks come out there. Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It’s not a secret, OK? And I’m not afraid to say it. That’s why they hate this movie. It’s about Jesus Christ, and it’s about truth. It’s about the messiah.

    Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions. I believe in traditional values and restraint. They believe in libertinism. We have nothing in common. But you know what? The culture war has been ongoing for a long time. Their side has lost.

    You have got secular Jews. You have got embittered ex-Catholics, including a lot of ex-Catholic priests who hate the Catholic Church, wacko Protestants in the same group, and these people are in the margins.

    1. Mel Gibson is a real role model now isn’t he? LOL Mel Gibson was born in the USA but I read daddy moved the family to Australia so Mel wouldn’t wing up in the military. Another movie commando like John Wayne. Donohue and Buchanan are a pair of over the hill bigots who are largely a joke! I check out the Catholic League Facebook page for a laugh and have posted on their until I was kicked off for telling them what I thought! LOL

  9. Donohue is a partisan and a hater, he is a fundi. While condemning the pedophilia among priests, he calls it a homosexual scandal. He thinks the Jews that control Hollywood (his characterization, not mine) are out to get him as evidenced by the South Park parody. He obviously (to me) hates women because he wants them treated as secondary to their biblical role as a vessel and helpmate. The new Pope would do well to distance himself from Donohue explicitly. How the new Pope handles Donohue will be for me, a test of the Pope’s fitness.

    Donohue knows exactly what he was doing and is doing and doesn’t seem to have any plan to stay on the honorable side of his bargain with the IRS- the citizens of America. As Nal quoted above: (para unbroken from Newsmax article)

    “In the end, the IRS concluded that although the Catholic League had “intervened in a political campaign,” it was “unintentional, isolated, non-egregious and non-recurring”; our tax-exempt status remained intact. This is false: I intentionally addressed political issues, and did not intervene in the campaign, unless, of course, my freedom to speak about political issues is a violation of the IRS Code. If that is the case, then this IRS unit should fold.”

    Donohue has no intention of honoring his responsibilities and there should be an agent assigned to watch his writings and appearances full-time. For every uncollected tax dollar his donors and his organization gets to keep some other taxpayer has to step up and assume the burden, either in more/higher taxes or loss of services or lack of needed expansion of government services. This arrogant con-man and many more like him literally, literally, has his hand in my pocket and I take that personally.

  10. LK,

    Just so you know, a discrete “Suggestions” thread has been suggested. I even offered to set it up. It is a pending maintenance matter, but our host has been quite busy lately. I doubt he’s yet had a chance to follow up on that thread of conversation among the GBs.

  11. AP, Michael:

    You might want to drop this into the corrections tread- it has some very serious ramifications. I have problems using that thread. We need a ‘suggestions’ thread as well as a ‘corrections’ thread IMO; maybe though if the Professor had wanted an ‘open thread’ he would have set one up, hmmmmmm.

    Appeals court rules Fair Sentencing Act applies retroactively to crack offenses

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