Friday, September 5, 2008

Illegal electioneering by Obama campaign at ISNA convention?

UPDATE (9/5/08): Dave Gaubatz is reporting that ISNA made an illegal official endorsement of Barack Hussein Obama at last week's convention and has a video recording of such. We will link to it as soon as it is online. [HT: Northeast Intelligence Network]

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is a 501c3 tax exempt organization. As is true for any 501c3 entity, especially a religious organization, ISNA is prohibited from hosting or supporting any partisan political activity. And yet at their national convention here in Columbus last week, ISNA hosted an Obama campaign booth in their exhibitors’ area as this picture taken on Friday night shows:

[PS — Yes, you might think that is actually Barack Obama at the booth, but it is just a life-sized cardboard cutout. As thin and vapid as Obama’s policies and experience are, it is an easy mistake to make.]

You might recall that in January 2006, a local organization of liberal religious figures in Central Ohio demanded that the IRS investigate alleged political activity at two area churches — World Harvest Church in Columbus and Fairfield Christian Church in Lancaster.

A Columbus Dispatch article at the time, “Churches Could Face IRS Probe”, quoted one of these “pastors”:

“For me, it’s church and state, not church in state and I really feel there are some churches in central Ohio crossing that line,” said Eric Williams, senior pastor of the [North Congregational United Church of Christ]. “The law allows church involvement in issues. This goes beyond issue-involvement to partisan politics and we’re simply asking the IRS to uphold the law.”
Did ISNA and the Obama campaign violate tax and election laws in this instance? That is clearly an issue for the IRS and the FEC to decide. So based on their previous outrage at alleged partisan political activity by religious organizations, will Eric Williams and his friends now join Central Ohioans Against Terrorism in demanding that the IRS investigate whether the Islamic Society of North America violated their tax-exempt status by hosting the Obama campaign?

Not holding my breath.