The Internal Revenue Service agency is going after the largest and oldest civil rights organization in the country, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
In retaliation, the NAACP is accusing the IRS of voter intimidation.
As a part of the organization’s annual convention in July, the NAACP had asked President George W. Bush to address their audience during the festivities. Bush, however, declined. In response to the president’s snub, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond criticized the Bush administration for failing to recognize the needs of the black community in his speech before the same crowd that Bush was asked to address.
As a result, the IRS has accused the NAACP of violating their tax-exempt status which restricts the organization from taking part in any type of lobbying efforts, including participation in political activities. Bond’s speech was seen as a move to get involved in the political campaign for president.
Thus far, the agency’s investigation has included requests for the costs of the convention where the events in question took place and a record of how each board member has voted. Taking these factors into account, the IRS’s probe had the potential to be fair and plausible.
The question of why did they wait until Oct. 8, days before Nov. 2, to make their case looms. This fact discredits the agency’s entire investigation because it is no secret that members of the NAACP are largely apart of the Democratic constituency. Therefore, if NAACP members did cast their ballots for Senator John Kerry their vote for president would be seen as self-incrimination to the IRS and would result in loosing their tax-exempt status. Voter intimidation? Indeed. This was great timing by the IRS.
Just as well, the Constitution guarantees citizens freedom of speech and a right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. This is essentially what Bond did. Quotes from his speech that were reported in the Washington Post were not inflated or largely incorrect. Black Americans have seen a decline in their quality of life under the Bush administration.
So where exactly is this instance of political lobbying? If Bond had been wearing a “Kerry for President” t-shirt during his speaking engagement then there would be cause to investigate the organization. However, this is a civil rights group and as such their duty requires them to speak for the people whom they represent when lawmakers brush aside their condition. It is expected for the NAACP to take some type of role in politics, if not there would be no advancement to work toward.