IRS Investigates Conservative Catholic League After Bogus Complaint

The problems with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) extend beyond playing politics with conservative groups seeking a tax-exempt status.

Just weeks after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, I was notified by the IRS that the Catholic League was under investigation for violating the IRS Code on political activities as it relates to 501(c)(3) organizations. What the IRS did not know was that I had proof as to who contacted them to launch the investigation: Catholics United, a George Soros-funded Catholic organization.

Catholics United contacted the IRS on June 5, 2008 to launch a probe of the Catholic League. Its lawyers mailed a letter to Marsha Ramirez, director of Exempt Organizations Examinations and to Lois Lerner, director of EO Division.

The "evidence" used against me was nothing more than news releases and articles I had written during the presidential campaign on various issues. Catholics United's lawyers asked the IRS to question the source of new funding the Catholic League had received, implying that we received illegal contributions.

The timing is not coincidental. On Oct. 20, 2008, I issued a news release, "George Soros Funds Catholic Left," and on Oct. 23, "Catholic Left Scandal Mounts." Both releases mentioned Catholics United. On Oct. 23, 2008, I was asked to go on CNN, and when Catholics United found out, they contacted the station trying to spike the interview.

I then received a letter from the IRS dated Nov. 24, 2008.

The head of Catholics United, Chris Korzen, who tried to get me off of CNN, said I was not "an authentic Catholic commentator and representative of the Catholic Church," and that CNN should either drop me altogether or put me on with a Catholic of Korzen's choosing.

The bid to keep me off TV failed. But in the process of trying, Korzen was dumb enough to share with CNN the complaint his group issued about the Catholic League to the IRS. The document, which was leaked to me by someone at CNN, matches up extraordinarily well with the IRS complaint of Nov. 24.

In the end, the IRS concluded that although the Catholic League had "intervened in a political campaign," it was "unintentional, isolated, non-egregious and non-recurring." As a result, our tax-exempt status remained intact.

This is false: I intentionally addressed political issues and did not intervene in any campaign, unless, of course, my freedom to speak about political issues is a violation of the IRS Code. If that is the case, then this IRS unit should fold.

It's obvious that the problem extends beyond the IRS. It extends to left-wing activists, funded by left-wing tycoons, all for the purpose of silencing conservatives. It's time someone was held accountable for this obscene political game.

Dr. William Donahue is the president of The Catholic League.

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