Friday, September 01, 2006

GOP Lawmakers Initiated NAACP IRS Investigation

A several year investigation of the NAACP by the IRS was initiated at the request of a group of Republican lawmakers with the goal of stripping the organization of its tax-exempt status.

The gooper politicians failed in their effort, which began following NAACP criticism of the Bush administration, including allegations of the theft of the 2000 presidential election.

Nearly two years after a controversial decision to investigate the NAACP for criticizing President Bush during the 2004 presidential campaign, the Internal Revenue Service has ruled that the remarks did not violate the group's tax-exempt status.

In a letter released yesterday by the NAACP, the IRS said the group, the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization, "continued to qualify" as tax-exempt. ...

(IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson) said the investigation of the NAACP was undertaken because two congressional leaders, whom he declined to name, requested it. They were unhappy because Bond criticized Bush in a speech in July 2004, saying his administration preached racial neutrality and practiced racial division.

"They write a new constitution of Iraq and they ignore the Constitution at home," Bond said.

After filing four freedom-of-information requests, NAACP lawyers discovered that far more than two members of Congress called for an investigation and that all were Republicans.

Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and Susan Collins (Maine) called for the investigation.

Others included Rep. Jo Ann S. Davis (R-Va.) and then-Rep. Larry Combest (R-Tex.). Former GOP representatives Joe Scarborough of Florida, who now hosts a talk show, and Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., currently governor of Maryland, also requested a probe. ...

Angela Ciccolo, an NAACP lawyer, noted that although Bond's remarks were made in July 2004, the investigation did not begin until October, just when the NAACP was attempting to register voters. "The timing of the investigation is critical," she said.

When the investigation started, Bush and the NAACP were locked in a long-running feud that started shortly before the president's first election victory in 2000.

During that campaign, the NAACP ran television spots featuring the daughter of James Byrd Jr., a black man who was dragged to death behind a pickup truck in Texas in 1998. She criticized Bush, then governor of Texas, for not signing hate-crime legislation.

The rift grew when the NAACP charged that Republicans in Florida stole the 2000 election by turning black voters away from the polls.

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