- (Photo: The Brody File)
Evangelist Franklin Graham has stated in a letter to President Barack Obama that the Christian charities he is leading were also targeted by the IRS along with conservative groups last year.
Graham sent a letter to President Obama on Tuesday outlining how Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association were the subjects of an IRS probe during the 2012 campaign season.
"In light of what the IRS admitted to on Friday, May 10, 2013, and subsequent revelations from other sources, I do not believe that the IRS audit of our two organizations last year was a coincidence – or justifiable," wrote Graham.
"I am bringing this to your attention because I believe that someone in the Administration was targeting and attempting to intimidate us. This is morally wrong and unethical – indeed some would call it 'un-American.'"
Last week, the Internal Revenue Service acknowledged that it had targeted conservative organizations applying for tax exemption under section 501(c)4, or the "social welfare" classification.
Lois Lerner, head of the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, apologized for the biased targeting of groups whose applications involved terms like "Tea Party" or "Patriot."
"That was wrong. That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive, and it was inappropriate. That's not how we go about selecting cases," said Lerner in a statement.
In his letter, Graham explained that the IRS sent agents to review the tax exempt status of Samaritan's Purse and the BGEA in the fall of 2012 due to their buying newspaper ads urging voters to support candidates "who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel."
"After the election, we did receive official notice that our organizations continue to qualify for exemption from Federal income tax, and that our returns were accepted as filed," wrote Graham.
"Unfortunately, while these audits not only wasted taxpayer money, they wasted money contributed by donors for ministry purposes, as we had to spend precious resources servicing the IRS agents at our offices."
Since the IRS acknowledged its targeting of conservative organizations, calls have been made by both congressional Republicans and the White House to conduct an investigation into the matter.
In a statement by President Obama as released by the Office of the press secretary, Obama referred to the actions of the IRS as "intolerable and inexcusable."
"The federal government must conduct itself in a way that's worthy of the public's trust, and that's especially true for the IRS. The IRS must apply the law in a fair and impartial way, and its employees must act with utmost integrity," said Obama on Tuesday.
"I expect everyone who serves in the federal government to hold themselves to the highest ethical and moral standards. So do the American people. And as President, I intend to make sure our public servants live up to those standards every day."
According to a recent statement by Attorney General Eric Holder, the Federal Bureau of Investigation will look into what was happening at the IRS during the 2012 election season.