Thursday, May 14, 2009
The Dallas Morning News reports the Internal Revenue Service has ruled that a foundation which funded the Texas Restoration Project did not violate the prohibition against charities intervening in political campaigns when it sponsored closed-door "Pastors' Policy Briefings" in 2005. The Project sought to create a network of evangelical pastors to encourage voter registration and promote a conservative moral agenda. According to the article, the IRS found that church congregations were told to vote their values but not for specific candidates and so the Project's foundation-funded efforts did not violate the prohibition. A press release from the Liberty Legal Institute, which represented the event organizers, identified the entity involved as the Niemoller Foundation, and the Dallas Morning News article reports that the Foundation was funded largely by four supporters of Texas Governor Rick Perry. The Texas Freedom Network, which in early 2008 filed a complaint with the IRS against the Foundation, expressed concern that the ruling would encourage the funneling of campaign funds through churches.
Additional coverage is available form the Washington Times, which speculates that the ruling will help Gov. Perry in his expected Republican primary contest against Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in 2010.