Amidst the recent furor surrounding the IRS’ admission of heightened targeting of the Tea Party comes another accusation against the agency, this time from the nonprofit Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). Its President, Franklin Graham said this today in his letter to President Barak Obama. In addition, Graham also believes the IRS action threatens to involve of nonprofit organizations.
An excerpt of the letter said, “Mr. President, the IRS has already publicly acknowledged it operated in a less than neutral and non-partisan way. We also now know that the target of their improper actions was much wider than political or Tea Party organizations. Will you take some immediate action to reassure Americans we are not in a new chapter of American history – repressive government rule?”
Graham’s letter claimed that the IRS also targeted the BGEA’s related international humanitarian organization, Samaritan’s Purse. According to Graham, the IRS notified both organizations in September last year that it was conducting a “review” of their activities for tax year 2010. Graham believes the review was part of an Obama administration effort of “targeting and attempting to intimidate us.”
Graham wrote in his letter, “While these audits not only wasted taxpayer money, they wasted money contributed by donors for ministry purposes as we had to spend precious resources servicing the IRS agents in our offices. I believe that someone in the administration was targeting and attempting to intimidate us. This is morally wrong and unethical – indeed some would call it ‘un-American.” In view of the IRS admission that it targeted Tea Party groups for added investigation, Graham said, “I do not believe that the IRS audit of our two organizations last year is a coincidence – or justifiable.”
The letter by Graham accuses the IRS of investigating the BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse because The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association urged voters to back “candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel” during last year’s presidential race. The result of the audit was that the Graham organizations could keep their federal income tax exemptions but they were only informed of this after the November election last year.
The IRS review involving an IRS agent visiting the two agencies last October, came after the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association published newspaper ads in North Carolina backing a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The amendment was passed in May.