One of the fun things I get to do with political musings is get on the e-mail lists of candidates and organizations. However, because a significant number of people in this town aren’t crazy about me, I try to not to use my “Abdul” e-mail addresses, but instead, one of several other ones. It works quite well. That’s how I found out that former Indianapolis west side resident and State Senate candidate Robin Shackleford is having a campaign kick-off for the seat being vacated by Bill Crawford in House District 98.
I knew she and the political powers that be had edged out incoming City-County Council Majority Leader Vern Brown out of running for the spot but I didn’t think the group was putting itself in a position to run afoul of federal law.
Shackleford is hosting her event on Thursday at the Forest Manor Multi-Service Center. The invitation is pretty straightforward. It lists the usual group you would expect to find hosting this event and invites the public to come from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. The problem is that Forest Manor is listed with the IRS as a 501(c)(3). And here is what the IRS has to say about 501(c)(3)’s getting involved in political campaigns…
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to all campaigns including campaigns at the federal, state and local level. Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.
And it gets even better…
Allowing a candidate to use an organization’s assets or facilities will also violate the prohibition if other candidates are not given an equivalent opportunity.
So let me see, Forest Manor, a 501(c)(3), is allowing its facilities to be used to host a political event for a Democratic candidate for State Representative. If you’re expecting me to go off on a rant of self-righteous indignation, sorry, not gonna happen. You know why? Because I am sure when Marion County GOP Chairman Kyle Walker finds a candidate to run in House District 98, he can pick up the phone and call Forest Manor Executive Director Regina Marsh, who by the way is a Democrat who ran against Republican Mike McQuillen in Council District 12 and lost. And knowing Regina like I do, she will be more than happy to allow the Republicans to use her facility for their candidate to kick off his or her campaign, because we all know Regina would never do anything that would jeopardize the tax status of Forest Manor by engaging in anything that would even have the slightest hint of impropriety because we know that type of behavior is reserved for Republicans and redistricting, right?!