Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson launched an attack on the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) last Thursday calling for its non-profit status to be revoked.
“The IRS must STOP this U.S. Islamic Group. Please join me in telling the IRS to revoke the tax exempt status of CAIR. Please sign my petition today,” said Carson’s Facebook page.
Carson, who has said that a Muslim should not be elected president, also stated a willingness to consider religion as probable cause for searches. CAIR has forcefully denounced his positions on Islam and Muslims calling them “bigoted”.
“Ben Carson has demonstrated once again that, as president, he would not abide by the Constitution,” said CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw. “Just as the constitution prohibits a religious test for public office, it also requires that searches be carried out based on probable cause of actual wrongdoing, not based on the faith of the individual subject to the search.”
The Internal Revenue Service says, “In general, no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying). A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status. …
“Organizations may, however, involve themselves in issues of public policy without the activity being considered as lobbying. For example, organizations may conduct educational meetings, prepare and distribute educational materials, or otherwise consider public policy issues in an educational manner without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.”
“In this case it doesn’t really matter what CAIR has said about Carson because it’s not a lobbying situation,” said CAIR National Director of Communications and Spokesperson Ibrahim Hooper.
“What he’s claiming is that you can’t tell who not to vote for. It’s just a publicity stunt for him. It’s amazing how a right-wing Republican can claim he has freedom of speech but we’re not allowed to have First Amendment rights also,” said Hooper.
“We’re looking at every possible legal option at this point.”