Jerry Falwell Jr. Gets Caught Breaking Federal Tax Law with Huckabee Endorsement
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This post, written by Steven Reynolds, originally appeared on The All Spin Zone
What's a little violation of tax laws for a guy like Jerry Falwell, Jr.? Oh, this isn't anything his father hadn't done in '86 or so. But I'm betting this time Liberty University will not be punished.
I was about to write "life father like son," but Jerry Falwell knew the line he had to skirt to keep his nonprofit status. He walked that line very carefully. Of course, he did so in an era when few politicians wanted to offend the religious right, and during a time when the IRS rarely challenged nonprofit status of any nonprofit for reasons of politicing. But this time there was a warning from the IRS a bare two weeks before Jerry, Jr. decided to back Mike Huckabee, publicly, and on Liberty University stationary. From BBSNews, which calls itself "your true conservative news source:
Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. violated federal tax law by using school resources to endorse Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, Americans United for Separation of Church and State told the Internal Revenue Service today.
In a complaint filed with the federal tax agency, Americans United noted that Falwell hosted the candidate at Liberty University and then sent an email message on Liberty University letterhead endorsing Huckabee.
In a "Liberty News Alert" dated Dec. 1, 2007, Falwell wrote, "Recently, Governor Mike Huckabee called to brief me on the progress of his campaign for the presidency. I invited the Governor to speak to the Liberty University students in Convocation on November 28. He graciously accepted. I was so impressed with the Governor's sincerity and his positions on the issues that are important to conservative Christians that I personally endorsed Governor Huckabee before he left Lynchburg."
Falwell goes on to say, "My father strongly supported Governor Huckabee when no one thought that he had any chance to succeed in the presidential race. I believe with all my heart that, if my father had witnessed Governor Huckabee's surge in the polls and his ascension to first place in the Iowa polls, he would have endorsed Governor Huckabee without hesitation."
The alert was accompanied by an article from a university-run online publication implying that Huckabee is God's candidate.
Americans United sent a letter to IRS officials today, asking them to investigate the matter. The letter notes that on Nov. 19, the IRS issued a press statement reminding charities and churches about the ban on politicking and asks the tax agency to back that up with enforcement in this case.
"Falwell surely knows that these types of political endorsements are illegal," remarked the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "Tax-exempt religious institutions may not be used to support or oppose candidates for public office."