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Attorney General Eric Holder and IRS officials advised black ministers on how to engage in political activity during the 2012 election without violating their tax-exempt status.
Holder, then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman, and Peter Lorenzetti, a senior official in the scandal-plagued agency’s exempt organizations division, participated in a May 2012 training session for black ministers from the Conference of National Black Churches at the U.S. Capitol hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). Holder spoke at the event.
“We’re going to, first of all, equip them with the information they need to know about what they can say and what they cannot say in the church that would violate their 501(c)(3) status with the IRS,” said then-CBC chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat from Missouri. “In fact, we’re going to have the IRS administrator there. We’re going to have Attorney General Eric Holder there…the ACLU.”
Eric Holder, IRS officials coached tax-exempt black ministers on how to engage in political activity
"It is important to note, however, that an organization exempt under 501(c)3 — in this case the church or a religious organization — can conduct educational election activities," including holding political debates or even inviting candidates to speak to congregants.
U.S. tax code prohibits churches and other nonprofits from "participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office."
The ban includes donations, endorsements, fundraising or any other activity "that may be beneficial or detrimental to any particular candidate." In the past, black churches have been known to pass out voting guides to members in violation of IRS rules.
IRS Gave Black Nonprofits Preferential Treatment