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Friday, 15 September 2006 05:30

Radical Anti-Choice Christian Group Busted for Illegal Campaigning During 2004 Election; Loses Tax-Exempt Status

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The anti-choice organization Operation Rescue West has had its tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) revoked by the IRS. An investigation was sparked from a complaint by Catholics For a Free Choice (CFFC) over blatant political campaigning by the group during the 2004 presidential election.

On July 15, 2004, Operation Rescue West sponsored a full-page ad in an ultra-conservative national magazine. The ad, entitled "John Kerry is a 'Catholic' Baby-Killing Hypocrite," referred to Democrats as "Deathocrats," and promised that any donations would be tax-deductible.

According to the IRS, Sen. Lyndon Johnson wrote an amendment in 1954 to prohibit 501(c)(3) organizations, which include charities and churches, from engaging in any political campaign activity. Congress has since strengthened the rules multiple times, including a specific ban against campaigning to oppose candidates.

While many of the dozens of non-profits investigated for 2004 campaigning were found to have violated the law, most were given only a letter of reprimand from the IRS. Only a handful actually lost their tax-exempt status.

"We applaud the IRS for its vigilance in monitoring election activities by 501(c)(3) organizations and hope the revocation of Operation Rescue West’s tax-exempt status will send a clear message to tax-exempt groups that think they are above the law that such activities will be monitored, reported to the IRS and acted upon," said CFFC president Frances Kissling. "As we enter the 2006 campaign season, we are already seeing substantial violations of the regulations from groups such as Priests for Life which seems to believe it need not comply with our election laws."

Operation Rescue West's director, Troy Newman, is himself a real piece of work. He claimed that the attacks of September 11, 2001 were punishment from God for abortion. MaggotPunks.com, a website particularly against Newman and the group, alleges that he is guilty of and under investigation for tax evasion and money laundering. The site also contains a rather interesting video filmed yesterday in which Newman, holding a baby, attacks a camera man. Also in the clip is an Operation Rescue West spokesperson claiming that the group had actually "voluntarily" given up its tax-exempt status (despite this official IRS announcement - pdf ).