NAACP Says No To Internal Revenue Request For DocumentsJanuary 30, 2005
IRS investigation appears to be motivated by partisan politics
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is refusing to comply with an Internal Revenue Service request for documents as part of its investigation into alleged improper political bias by the nation's largest civil rights organization.
According to the IRS, the NAACP's tax exempt status is being challenged because NAACP Chairman of the Board Julian Bond allegedly made politically partisan remarks while speaking at the NAACP National Convention last July. The NAACP has rejected the IRS's premise that Bond's speech constituted prohibited campaign intervention.
In a letter to the IRS, the NAACP said that Bond's comments "were consistent with the organization's long-standing practice of advocating positions in the interest of minorities in the United States without regard to election cycles." Moreover, Angela Ciccolo, NAACP Interim General Counsel, pointed out that Bond criticized both political parties at points in his speech and both presidential candidates were invited to address the annual convention held in Philadelphia last summer.
The IRS investigation of the NAACP and other organizations was apparently undertaken in response to a request by two unnamed members of Congress, according to a letter released by Rep. Charles Rangel, Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee.
NAACP Interim President and CEO Dennis Hayes said: "The IRS assault was clearly motivated by partisan politics and intended to divert us from the traditional impartial voter registration and get-out-the-vote activities we've carried on for almost 100 years." He noted that the IRS investigation was announced one month before the 2004 election, far in advance of the due date for federal tax filings, and rests on an IRS provision under which the agency has no legal ability to conduct an examination based on Bond's speech.
The IRS claims that Bond, speaking at last year's convention, "condemned" President Bush's war, economic and educational policies. "Under that standard, 55 million Americans would be subject to audits," said Bond. "We've criticized, condemned and/or praised every President since Theodore Roosevelt and we'll continue to speak truth to power."
Hayes said: "The NAACP's right to criticize public officials cannot be discarded because of political pressures. We will fight with all our energy to preserve this right for ourselves - and for all Americans."
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its half- million adult and youth members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.
CONTACT: NAACP Office of Communications 410.580.5125