Did Kamala Harris Just Violate Federal Law To Boost Terry McAuliffe In Virginia?

Democratic leaders have pulled out the stops to try to help Terry McAuliffe in his struggling campaign for governor in Virginia. Figures from Barack Obama to Stacey Abrams have stumped for McAuliffe  who is in a tight race with businessman Glenn Youngkin. The key for McAuliffe is black voters, and to spur turnout Vice President Kamala Harris has taped an endorsement of McAuliffe that is reportedly being played at hundreds of African American churches around the state. The problem is the “Johnson Amendment” makes such political pitches in churches a violation of federal law. Making matters worse, this knowing violation occurred just days after the filing of a complaint against White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki for clearly violating the Hatch Act in using the White House press room to support McAuliffe.

The video was aired last Sunday and will air again next Sunday. It was also quoted and aired by CNN. As Harris said in her much maligned “space video,” you can see the violation of federal law “with your own eyes.

It is part of McAuliffe’s push called “Souls to the Polls” and is a full-throated endorsement of McAuliffe that calls on black churches to turn out for his election. Harris declares “I believe that my friend Terry McAuliffe is the leader Virginia needs at this moment.”


The problem is that such direct politicking in tax-exempt churches has been unlawful for decades. Section 501(c)3 states:

Corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in subsection (h)), and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.

That bolded language is the “Johnson Amendment” prohibition and expressly includes “the publishing or distributing of statements.

The IRS makes clear that such violations will not be tolerated. The agency warns that tax-exempt groups “are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.” It further stresses:

“Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.”

This was a direct political pitch reportedly played in hundreds of churches. Of course, the White House could claim that any violation was committed by the churches if they played the video in prohibited areas. The churches not the White House would be the 501(c)3 entities subject to any enforcement. That assumes that this was not created for that purpose, but it would effectively throw the churches under the bus. The ultimate penalty is the loss of their tax exempt status, though that is unlikely given the lax enforcement in past cases. Nevertheless, there is a legitimate interest in whether the White House knowingly participated in an effort to campaign in churches in violation of their federal obligations.

What is most hypocritical is that the Democrats used the opposition to the Johnson Amendment by former President Donald Trump as a rallying cry in the last election. Trump boasted that he got rid of the Johnson Amendment. That was not true. Here is the critical language in the Trump executive order:

In particular, the Secretary of the Treasury shall ensure, to the extent permitted by law, that the Department of the Treasury does not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization on the basis that such individual or organization speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues from a religious perspective, where speech of similar character has, consistent with law, not ordinarily been treated as participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) a candidate for public office by the Department of the Treasury.

The order expressly requires adherence to federal law and only states that “moral or political issues” may be discussed “from a religious perspective.” Harris is calling souls to the polls in a straight political speech. So even under Trump’s order, this would be a violation.

Putting aside any federal violation in such pitches, Trump’s desire to get the vote out through evangelical churches was widely denounced as an attack on the separation of Church and State. That was before McAuliffe ran into trouble in what was viewed as a reliably blue state that Biden won by a wide margin. Now the same media and legal figures are silent.

If this is indeed played in churches (as opposed to simply posted on Internet sites), it does appear a premeditated and unambiguous violation of the federal law governing churches as non-for-profit institutions.

168 thoughts on “Did Kamala Harris Just Violate Federal Law To Boost Terry McAuliffe In Virginia?”

  1. I am confident that our impartial Department of Justice will pursue this violation (right after the election).

      1. I didn’t hear his speech. Is he on record telling people to vote for Trump and other GOP candidates? I ask because that would seem to be an unnecessary statement for him to make. I doubt anyone in attendance thought he was there campaigning for Biden or Democrat candidates.

  2. I agree with Olly.

    I dont see how the govt can limit the 1st amendment right of free speech in churches. Legislation would specifically conflict with “Congress shall make no law”….”prohibit the free exercise of religion”
    But that’s not the debate. Is the DoJ going to make an example of those Churches by stripping them of their 501(c)3 protection?That itself would be in direct violation of the 1st amendment.

      1. Taxing churches is a direct restriction on worhship. The issuing of a 501(c)3 exemption is nothing but a lie. It give the illusion of Government ‘granting’ an entity the license to be a church. The Government has no such power. The 1st amendment declares it so.

        1. Your understanding of the 1st Amendment is flawed and your claim is false, just like a lot of other claims you make. You aren’t even honest enough to admit that your claim that the Mueller Report never mentioned Kilimnik was false, even though there’s a section of the report titled with his name and it’s easy to do a text search showing that Kilimnik’s name appeared almost 150 times. If you aren’t even truthful enough to admit when your claims are wildly false, why should anyone take your word on anything?

          The 1st Amendment restricts the government from targeting religious organizations, but the courts have regularly held that churches, temples, etc. are not exempt from neutral laws that generally apply. For example, religious buildings aren’t exempt from building safety codes. Churches, temples, etc. aren’t generally exempt from employment discrimination laws (with the exception of people who serve in “ministerial” roles). They aren’t exempt from child labor laws. And so forth.

          As SCOTUS summarized their ruling in Employment Division v Smith, “A law is constitutional under the Free Exercise Clause if it is facially neutral and generally applied.”

          1. SCOTUS decided Dred Scott.

            Leftist judges hate the notion the people are superior to the government. Judges repeated rule that the govt is King. People subjects. The theater that is 501(c)s, is proof of that. Free exercise shall not be prohibited
            Kilimnik? Still never interviewed be a single government investigator. Conclusions were reached by a sloppy game of leftist telephone. All the agencies telling what they had”heard” but never picking up a phone to interview the subject. Ditto for the media. They printed the lies “leaked” by agencies to the media.
            You should try to read the link I provided.

            1. Our Constitution establishes the Supreme Court to rule on federal legal issues. Their rulings are law, unless the people choose to amend the Constitution or the Court subsequently overrules its own precedent.

              You can say “Free exercise shall not be prohibited” (which is not the wording in the Constitution). but it’s not an effective argument, since tax laws don’t prohibit religious exercise.

              “Kilimnik? Still never interviewed be a single government investigator. ”

              Which is totally irrelevant to your wild lie that “Mueller … avoided like the plague putting Kilimnik’s name in his report.”

              “You should try to read the link I provided.”

              I did!
              I even asked you to provide links to the FBI reports that Taibbi said he was quoting from, since Taibbi didn’t identify them. You ignored it.

              1. . but it’s not an effective argument, since tax laws don’t prohibit religious exercise.
                That ranks up there with one of your more stupid premises.
                Taxes do not influence behavior.

                Why are cigaretts taxed ~$3 a pack?
                Obama declared he was going to tax coal mining out of existance.
                Local governments use TIF…to influence behavior.
                Tax breaks are using taxes to influence behavior. .
                The entirety of the tax code is nothing but attempts at influencing behaviour.

                Once again you exposed the lie. You have no idea you did, but you did.
                Once the power to tax is established, the battle is lost. That is why it is dangerous to cede any freedom.

                1. Learn the different between “prohibit” (your original claim that I responded to) and “influence” (your attempt now to move the goalposts).

                  Still waiting for you to admit that your wild lie that “Mueller … avoided like the plague putting Kilimnik’s name in his report” is false. Why is this so hard for you to admit?

                  1. “Mueller … avoided like the plague putting Kilimnik’s name in his report” is false.”


                    Watching Mueller’s testimony it seems likely the only thing he put in his report was his name. He came across as senile and in need of hints during testimony.

                    1. Even if your claim were true (which it isn’t), it’s irrelevant to Iowan’s lie that Kilimnik wasn’t mentioned in the report.

                      Mueller didn’t come across as senile. He did come across as being in the early stages of normal age-related cognitive decline (and perhaps hearing problems) that falls well short of senility. Even with this mild decline, he reasons better than you do, in addition to being much more honest.

                    2. ATS: “He did come across as being in the early stages of normal age-related cognitive decline”


                      A nice way of saying he appeared to be in the early stages of senility. Even Schiff was unhappy with his confused presentation. But I liked it. These people needed to be seen for what they really are.

                      Here was another member of the Geezerocracy.

                      Or the Dependsocracy.

                  2. Is that ATS playing his word games again.

                    Does a gun in the hands of another act to prohibit you or influence you?

                    Anyway one looks at it, ATS is dishonest.

                  3. Still waiting for you to admit that your wild lie that “Mueller … avoided like the plague putting Kilimnik’s name in his report” is false. Why is this so hard for you to admit?

                    Not a lie so much as trap. To get you to admit that no agency or investigative body bothered to interview Kilimnik. All included “details” about how he was a Russian spy, and the back channel to President Trump through Manafort. Except no one ever talked to Kilimnik. That part of the Mueller Report, was fiction. That part of the Senate Report? A lie.
                    So everytime the left comes up with something they think links President to Russia! Its proven to be a lie.
                    (I also got crossed up with the fact that the US Embassy redacted all references to Kilimink in its classified cables covering the bi weekly briefings given by Kilimnik)

                    1. No, it’s a lie, just like you lied about the FBI and the DNC server and then ran away when I quoted sworn testimony contradicting you.

                      Instead of admitting your own lies, you just make excuses and accuse others of lying.

                  4. Learn the different between “prohibit” (your original claim that I responded to) and “influence” (your attempt now to move the goalposts).
                    Taxing is a control mechanism. Once its in place, then it just a matter of turning up the pressure.
                    Even simple minded people can see the premise at work. You on the other hand are forced to lie to yourself, so as not to admit you wish the government could ignore the constitution to advance the agenda you think is best.

                    1. You are lying about me.

                      You make a lot of false claims, and when you’re presented with evidence that they’re false, you run away from admitting you were wrong.

                      As I pointed out to you earlier, you are pretending to understand this issue better than the Supreme Court. As SCOTUS summarized their ruling in Employment Division v Smith, “A law is constitutional under the Free Exercise Clause if it is facially neutral and generally applied.” Religious buildings aren’t exempt from building safety codes. Churches, temples, etc. aren’t generally exempt from employment discrimination laws (with the exception of people who serve in “ministerial” roles). They aren’t exempt from child labor laws. And so forth. “Even simple minded people can see the premise at work.”

    1. Churches should not shrink from their duty to advocate for a government that is consistent with their religious teachings. They can and should identify laws and policies that infringe the right of conscience. They can do that without actively endorsing specific candidates or political parties. If they stick to teaching scripture and identify government policies that are inconsistent with those teachings, then they can leave it up to their congregations to determine how they vote. This is a good, short article on the subject.

      1. They can also choose to give up their 501(c)3 status and endorse candidates. No person or organization has a 1st Amendment right to tax exempt status.

          1. And I’m not surprised that you’d think your personal opinion about what’s “dumbest” matters to anyone except you and your pals. People’s values differ. Every entity that is eligible for tax exempt status gets to make up its own mind about whether they find the trade-offs worth it.

      2. I stopped attending two churches because they were preaching political issues. The first was a Lutheran when I was in college, and the second was an Episcopalian I attended as an adult. I believe this is why church attendance is down. Churches started getting into politics, so people who were interested in biblical teaching got turned off and stopped going. And those who were interested in politics didn’t need to go to church to hear about politics because it was part of their life anyway. I can only speak for myself, but that’s why I stopped attending church. I can read the Bible at home. And I don’t need a minister telling me how to vote.

        1. I’m not suggesting Churches engage in political activism. What I am suggesting is educating the congregation on governance that is consistent with biblical teachings. Once armed with that knowledge, the congregants should then be better prepared to evaluate and vote based political platforms, policies and politicians that support their biblical worldview. It’s not much different from teaching U.S. Civics.

  3. They don’t care about the law. Don’t you get it yet? How many articles do you need to write before you get it? Eviction moratorium? Jan 6 prisoners being treated worse than the Taliban? Hello. McFly

    1. That tactic was introduced by Obama, and has continued under Biden. It’s basically the “well, what are you going to do about policy,” meaning they just go ahead and do what they want, knowing there will be no consequences beyond a slap on the wrist. Biden made clear that he was following the policy when he acknowledged that the Supreme Court would strike down his eviction moratorium, but he was going ahead with it because by the time SCOTUS got to it, he would have achieved his goals. The open lawlessness of the Democratic government breeds disrespect for the law and an eroding of our cultural norms. We are no longer “a country of laws.” The government picks and chooses among the laws it wants to enforce based on politics.

  4. This half Indian and half Jamaican who was raised in Canada making a plea to only African America Churches is like Sen. Elizabeth Warren making a plea to American Indians.

    1. Actually, she’s half Indian, 1/4 Afro-Jamaican and 1/4 English; raised in Canada by an Indian mother with a Ph.D and employed as a cancer researcher, but, yeah, she totally relates culturally to the average American black, lol. At least Obama thought it necessary to marry an American black, but Kamala chose a white Jewish husband who is a partner at a prestige Los Angeles law firm. She’s about as black as crumpets and tea, but black Americans will accept anything because they’ve bought into the “one-drop rule.”

  5. Did Democrats violate the law?

    Is there any question?

    Democrats violate laws on a continuous basis. The big problem is that their accomplices are the IRS, the DOJ, the FBI, etc. That makes any Republican violations insignificant.

    1. Also, the violation would be on the church, not the VP.

      With the minor exception that the video was specifically made for presentation at a Church service. She mentions this is the first year you can vote on Sunday. So please, vote after today’s service.

      At the very least, she has encouraged Churches to violate the law.

    2. That is an excellent point.

      The Dems used the IRS to punish those on the right denying 501 C 3 to legitimate organizations and they audited people on the right to intimidate them. That is how the left misused the Washington bureaucracy.

  6. JT, why are you silent about all the other breaches of the Johnson Amendment in the VA governor’s race? They’re occurring on both sides.

    “Rev. Gary Hamrick believes pastors should preach about political candidates — and tell their flocks who is worthy of support — as part of “the Gospel applied.” Failing to do so risks “undermining that relevance of the Gospel.” The senior pastor of Cornerstone Chapel in Leesburg, Virginia, made these remarks last week at the Family Research Council’s annual political advocacy conference, which was held this year at Hamrick’s church.
    “Joining him at the event’s podium were a number of other conservative Christian activists and Republican politicians like U.S. Sens. Josh Hawley, James Lankford, and Roger Moran; U.S. Reps. Bob Good, Vicki Hartzler, and Mike Waltz; former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; and former Ambassador Sam Brownback. The Virginia Republican gubernatorial hopeful, Glenn Youngkin, also addressed the conference.
    “This past Sunday, Hamrick practiced what he preached by inviting Youngkin back to Cornerstone. But this time Youngkin spoke during the worship service as he sought votes in the upcoming election. Not to be outdone, the campaign of Youngkin’s Democratic opponent and Virginia’s former governor, Terry McAuliffe, announced the next day (Oct. 11) that he would make campaign stops in not one but three churches this coming Sunday alongside former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. …”

    The Family Research Council is also a 501(c)3, and presumably so are the churches mentioned above.

      1. How is it a deflection? They note both Youngkin and McAuliffe campainging at churches and other 501(c)3s. That’s the issue.

        To be clear: Harris didn’t break the law, and neither did Youngkin and McAuliffe. The 501(c)3s are the ones breaking the law, and it’s happening on both sides.

    1. You are blind to the issue at hand.

      The Good Professor sees it straight and you do not.

      His concern is the Vice President, DNC, McAullife and his Campaign are deliberately violating Federal Law by their deliberate actions.

      What he does not say….but the sad reality is….the Biden DOJ and FBI shall do nothing about it…..nor will the Biden IRS either.

      That is the problem with Democrats….they knowingly and with premeditation violate Election Laws, IRS Regulations, and perpetrate crimes…..knowing they are immune from prosecution due to their corrupt hold on power.

      1. a) The entity breaking the law is the 501(c)3, not the person who campaigns there.
        b) 501(c)3s are allowing campaigning for BOTH Youngkin AND McAuliffe, so no truthful person would suggest that it’s only one side.

        1. Youre lying but what else is new.

          McAuliffe visited 11 Black churches and never even mentioned any religious themes!!! Youngkin visited two churches, one which he is a founder and registered member, and the other he talked about his religious faith

          You really are a pathetic liar.

          Carry on liar.

          1. You are the liar you complain about. Both statements in my 10:19 AM are true. Also note that 501(c)3s are not limited to churches.

          2. 11 churches? Wow. And not a word from his mouth about religion….in a black church. What religion is he anyways? Wiccan?

      2. I’m shocked! Democrats deliberately circumventing the law! OMG! Big News. And they have all 3 branches of government plus the intelligence community and law enforcement in their pocket? OMG! People, this is what they have waited for, and now we’ll all get to see what their ultimate goals are, if they can stop arguing amongst themselves long enough to ram some more EO’s through or pass some gawd-awful Christmas-tree bill that contained everything in their agenda in one piece of legislation. This is, apparently what “we the people” want, when “we” voted these criminals in. How is it that you are all surprised by their behavior? And, again, Dr. Turley, how can you continue to be a card-carrying Democrat in the face of all this crap? That’s the ONLY thing I find shocking here.

        1. “Democrats deliberately circumventing the law! ”

          Yes, and Republicans deliberately circumventing the law too!

  7. I haven’t studied this issue but personally, I don’t agree with muzzling Churches from political activity.

    That being said: Show of hands; how many believe any Churches will lose their nonprofit status as a result of this political activity?

    This is more likely a shot across the 2022 “election integrity” bow. Crack down now on black Churches and that will be considered racist and voter suppression. The next move will be for the “future,” newly expanded IRS to threaten and harrass conservative Christian nonprofits during this election cycle.

  8. “Multiculturalism” is a program that is FORCED upon EVERY & ONLY White countries.

    “Multiculturalism” is a program to turn EVERY White country into a non-White country.

    This is genocide. WHITE Genocide.

    If you are White, and you object to your own genocide, you are called an “EVILRACISTNAZI”!

    Well guess what, my people, White people, are catching on very quickly to the following two things:

    1 – Multiculturalism is a code word for White Genocide.

    2 – Anti-racist is a code word for anti-White.

      1. ATS “yes, you come off as racist”


        That accusation used to be a dart; now it’s a marshmallow.

        Find some other stupid slur.

      2. Larkenson does have a point. We can have Black Pride and Hispanic Pride and Gay Pride, etc. events but somehow even a “White Pride” t-shirt would be condemned as racist and [insert your favorite phobia]. Why are leftists so fearful of white people?

    1. ” . . .White countries.”

      What exactly is a “white country?”

      If you focus on race, as opposed to *ideas*, you have lost the battle against multiculturalism — and have betrayed Western civilization.

  9. Democrats have always campaigned in black churches and nothing has ever been done about it. It is just a fact of life that this happens every election It is if the black churches are somehow exempt from this law.

  10. McAwful has a far bigger problem with the death of Colin Powell. Quite the October surprise. This is also bad all around for the national cult religion of the vaccine.

    Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, the first Black American to serve in the post, died on Monday at the age of 84 due to complications from COVID-19, his family announced in a statement. The family said the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had been fully vaccinated and was receiving treatment at Walter Reed National Medical Center.
    – The Hill

    Blacks will wag their fingers at the vaccine evangelists. Blacks in VA have 46% compliance in being fully vaccinated. Whites have 51% and Hispanics 58%.

    Current radio commercials in Richmond (50% Black) run the gamut of “Youngkin is going to kill your children” to “Youngkin doesn’t believe in vaccines”. Well, nor do Blacks. With Powell’s death in spite of being fully vaccinated, his unfortunate death will suppress Black voters. This is assuming of course election integrity even exists. Democrats will likely find 2,000,000 unaccounted ballots of dead voters after election polls close at the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay.

    1. Republican churches playing videos of Mike Pence politicking? I missed that. Please provide an example.

      1. The video is not the issue, it is the overt campaigning for a politician. And they do that all the time.

    2. I would love to see that video of a Republican Vice President campaigning for a Named Candidate from the Pulpit of a church during Scheduled Worship Services

  11. We’ve seen this repeated constantly. Dems respond to a policy agenda item, explain exactly why the actions desired violate the Constitution, and then a few days later issue an executive order, or an agency writes a rule, violating the Constitution. The Rent moratorium was just one of the latest. SCOTUS laid out exactly what the Constitution prescribed. Only Congress would have the constitutional power to make such an order.
    Biden issues it anyway, and admitted it was unconstitutional, but it would take time to get any ruling to overturn.

    The Churches looked at the Harris video and thought, ‘well, this is the Vice President, Ex Senator, Ex Atty General for California. AND claims to be black. It such a credentialed person tells me this is within the law, then I accept that counsel.

      1. Did you even read your own link? How much are your George Soros handlers paying you to lie by the character? You’ve filled more characters on this page than anyone else!!!!

        On Youngkin:

        “Youngkin played a key role in founding Holy Trinity Church in McLean and continues to serve as a lay leader there.” ….Unlike politicians who superficially claim a church affiliation, Youngkin is highly engaged with his congregation…..We found the video from the Cornerstone service, during which Youngkin testified a bit about his personal faith and the “transformational journey of my life.”

        On McAuliffe:

        “On Sept. 12, McAuliffe, a self-described “very strong Catholic,” made the rounds to predominantly Black congregations in the adjoined cities of Chesapeake and Norfolk. He offered brief remarks at the front of each church sanctuary and then, apparently, quickly left to make the next spot on his whirlwind tour. He shared images of himself on Twitter that morning from nine churches (and mentioned he was going to 11 that morning)….

        Perhaps most tellingly, his speeches, with one exception, were devoid of religious content”

        Lying is a Democrat staple

        1. How much are your WinRed handlers paying you to lie by the character?

          Nothing in my 10:17 AM comment was false.

  12. The violators are the churches that played the video appeal. I suppose that Kamala Harris (and those who were involved in making the video) would be aiders and abettors of the churches. Ronald Reagan in the 1980 presidential campaign appeared before a group of clergymen and said, “You can’t endorse me but I can endorse you.” The first part of his statement must refer to the Johnson amendment.

    1. Reagan was a wise and insightful President. The churches that violated the Johnson Amendment nor Harris will not have to worry since it is the DOJ that would have to take action and under Democratic leadership, they never will!

      1. It’s the IRS that would revoke tax-exempt status, and that would defend any challenge to that action in Tax Court. If the matter were appealed to Federal District Court, the DOJ would defend the IRS. But it’s not going to happen. Black churches are untouchable. Along with black rioters and looters.

        1. Yep, all the Black people who’ve been arrested for rioting, looting, and other crimes are just a figment of our imagination.

  13. “Trump boasted that he got rid of the Johnson Amendment. That was not true.”

    He lied?!? Say it ain’t so!

    As for the question “Did Kamala Harris Just Violate Federal Law To Boost Terry McAuliffe In Virginia?,” the actual legal question is whether the churches just violated the law. But of course, Turley wants the more provocative headline.

    1. Harris provided the tape, and hence she was a co-conspirator in this legal action …. and she was more aware of what took place, and hence should be more responsible for the illegal acts.

    2. You blame the churches. Yes, they are complicit, but which party should know the law better, clergy or the executive branch of our federal government? The Feds are well versed enough on the regulations/laws to go after Younkin for ads with alleged issues over his image being obscured, but overlook this? Sauce for the goose…

      1. The video itself was not illegal. Playing it in church would be illegal for the church. Playing it elsewhere is fine. You simply assume that the IRS will “overlook this,” though I doubt you have any idea what their process is for enforcing the Johnson Amendment.

  14. Political speech in churches is illegal. As a consequence, the IRS should remove the offending churches from tax-exempt status. The Biden adm has repetitively engaged in govt overreach

    1. She didn’t violate any law. She can make political videos. However, churches that play her speech are violating the law.

Leave a Reply