The Sunday prior to Martin Luther King Day, in Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist church, the pulpit was filled by Valerie Jarrett. Valerie Jarrett is a senior adviser to President Barack Obama and she delivered what some might describe as a campaign speech at the ‘worship’ service. After the service, voter registration was held.
The American Spectator tells us that:
Jarrett is a business executive, she also has been a well-known political operative for Chicago Democrats back to her days working in the background as an adviser to late Chicago mayor Harold Washington, as well as the Daley family.
Certainly Valerie Jarrett has been involved in Chicago politics. She has also been described as a business woman who is into progressive far-left leaning politics.
This event interested me partly because I recently saw on Facebook an e-mail copied and posted that stated in part:
Obama made a policy that NO U.S. SERVICEMAN CAN SPEAK AT ANY FAITH-BASED PUBLIC EVENTS ANYMORE.
Snopes states that the e-mail is FALSE. The e-mail stated that Greg Stubes was a disabled Green Beret soldier who was asked to speak at Catch-A-Dream Foundation in order to grant a wish for a child with a life threatening illness. It turns out that part is TRUE. The event was cancelled. That is TRUE as well. Two things weren’t true. Obama did not call the foundation and request the speaker be canceled. The Defense Department canceled the speaker. Also, the department stated they were canceling not due to the fact that it was a ‘faith-based’ organization but rather a fund-raising’ organization.
Valerie Jarrett is not a member of the armed forces, so she is not affected by this policy. Members of the Obama team may speak at worship services used as fund-raising events and voter registration whenever they please. Will this effect the tax-free status of Ebenezer Baptist Church? Probably not.
Is what the Obama administration did and is doing legal?
Not being a lawyer, I cannot answer, however this is what is written in the IRS code:
Election Year Activities and the Prohibition on Political Campaign Intervention for Section 501(c)(3) Organizations
During election campaigns, many churches, universities, hospitals, social service providers, and other section 501(c)(3) organizations are uncertain about the extent to which they can discuss issues of importance in the campaigns or interact with candidates for public office. They are also uncertain about the role they can play in encouraging citizens to register and vote. This fact sheet is intended to help organizations understand what they can and cannot do when an election campaign is under way.
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations 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. The prohibition applies to all campaigns including campaigns at the federal, state and local level. Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Those section 501(c)(3) organizations that are private foundations are subject to additional restrictions that are not described in this fact sheet.
What do you think? Perhaps a better question would be, do you think any action will be taken against any party who violates this section if they are associated with the Obama administration?