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Bush lashes out at critics
IRS threatens probe of NAACP

By Eric Ruder | November 12, 2004 | Page 2

JUST BEFORE Election 2004, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) threatened to investigate the NAACP, the nation's oldest civil rights organization. Why? Because its director criticized George W. Bush at its July convention.

The IRS claimed that Julian Bond's harsh words for Bush violated the NAACP's tax-exempt status, which forbids the group from participating in a political campaign. Bond condemned Bush's coziness with corporate crime, his record on the environment, the assault on civil liberties and tax breaks for the rich--not exactly ideas that belong exclusively to the Democratic Party.

In fact, the timing of the IRS letter was planned to intimidate the NAACP in the midst of its drive to turn out Black voters on Election Day. Though Bond's speech was made in July, the IRS didn't send its letter until the final weeks of the presidential campaignThe letter demands that the NAACP provide a complete accounting of all its convention-related expenses--and the "names and addresses of each board member and how each voted."

Of course, Bush's IRS didn't send a letter threatening the tax-exempt status of the Roman Catholic Church--though the church came out against John Kerry. "The NAACP has always been non-partisan," Bond said. "That doesn't mean we're non-critical, nor does any law or regulation require that we must be."

While Bush turned down an invitation to address the NAACP convention, he did speak at the convention of the Urban League, which is also subject to the guidelines for tax-exempt groups, but has been more accommodating to the White House. Such appearances are permitted, as long as the "the candidate speaks only in a non-candidate capacity," according to the IRS. But during his appearance, Bush declared, "I'm here to ask for your vote."

Funny that the Urban League hasn't received a letter from the IRS.

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