By Bob Roehr
“Focus on the Family has engaged in prohibited electioneering by openly endorsing candidates for public office,” in violation of its IRS tax status, a liberal group charged in a Nov. 28 letter to the Internal Revenue Service.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said that as a 501(c)(3) organization, Focus on the Family “is barred from any and all political activity.” But its founding head, James Dobson, actively endorsed and campaigned for candidates including Rep. Patrick J. Toomey in a race for the Senate in Pennsylvania; Tom Coburn in his Oklahoma campaign for the US Senate; and Pat Ballentine who ran for Governor in North Carolina.
“In some of these instances, Mr. Dobson has stated that he was acting as a private individual. But an examination of all the facts and circumstances surrounding his multiple endorsements reveals that despite Mr. Dobson’s use of these ‘magic words’ he was in truth, capitalizing on his identification with Focus on the Family.”
“Indeed, at times he used Focus on the Family resources for his political activities, giving the understandable perception that he was acting as chairman and founder of Focus on the Family,” CREW executive director Melanie Sloan wrote in her letter to the IRS. It provided more than 90-pages of documentation to back up the charges.
Sloan requested that the IRS conduct a full-scale investigation to determine if Focus on the Family and Dobson did engage in prohibited electioneering. It called upon the IRS to “revoke the organizations’ tax exempt status, impose all applicable fines and penalties, and pursue all other available civil and criminal remedies against those involved in the foregoing transgressions.”
CREW noted in its press release that the IRS has pursued similar investigations against perceived liberal groups and that regulations should be enforced equitably. CREW has offices on Dupont Circle, the metaphoric heart of the gay community in Washington, D.C.
“Anyone can send a letter to the IRS,” Focus attorney Jim Bopp told the Rocky Mountain News. He called it “just a lame effort by this organization to get publicity.” He said that Focus was in compliance with all government regulations.
Perhaps in an attempt to change the subject, Focus on the Family announced on Dec. 1 that it was severing its relationship with banking giant Wells Fargo for making contributions to a gay organization, in this case, GLAAD.
“Earlier this year we learned that Wells Fargo gave a matching gift to a pro-homosexual group to enable it to raise more money to fight organizations like our own. As one of Wells Fargo’s customers, we objected, and we received no satisfactory resolution,” Focus president Jim Daly explained in a released statement.
He asserted, “The aggressive agenda of the homosexual movement and its activists is harmful to families, and we believe it is time to stand up and fight that.” There was no indication how many years it took Focus to learn that a bank headquartered in San Francisco just might be gay-friendly.
It is common practice among large corporations to match the individual donations of its employees to nonprofit organizations, though some will only do so for certain types of organizations such as colleges and universities, while many match only a limited dollar amount up to a fixed ceiling per employee.