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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
December 9, 2005

IRS asked to investigate
anti-gay group's tax status

Washington, D.C.--�Focus on the Family has engaged in prohibited electioneering by openly endorsing candidates for public office,� in violation of its IRS tax status, a liberal group charged in a November 28 letter to the Internal Revenue Service.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, said that as a non-profit organization under section501(c)(3) of the tax code, Focus on the Family �is barred from any and all political activity.�

But its founding head, James Dobson, has actively endorsed and campaigned for candidates including Rep. Patrick J. Toomey in a race for the Senate in Pennsylvania; Tom Coburn in his Oklahoma campaign for the U.S. Senate; and Pat Ballentine, who ran for governor of North Carolina.

�In some of these instances, Mr. Dobson has stated that he was acting as a private individual. But an examination of all the facts and circumstances surrounding his multiple endorsements reveals that despite Mr. Dobson�s use of these �magic words� he was, in truth, capitalizing on his identification with Focus on the Family.�

�Indeed, at times he used Focus on the Family resources for his political activities, giving the understandable perception that he was acting as chairman and founder of Focus on the Family,� CREW executive director Melanie Sloan wrote in her letter to the IRS. It provided more than 90-pages of documentation to back up the charges.

Sloan requested that the IRS conduct a full-scale investigation to determine if Dobson and his Colorado Springs organization did engage in prohibited electioneering. It called upon the IRS to �revoke the organization�s tax-exempt status, impose all applicable fines and penalties, and pursue all other available civil and criminal remedies against those involved in the foregoing transgressions.�

CREW noted in its press release that the IRS has pursued similar investigations against perceived liberal groups and that regulations should be enforced equitably. CREW has offices on Dupont Circle, the metaphoric heart of the gay community in Washington, D.C.

�Anyone can send a letter to the IRS,� Focus attorney Jim Bopp told the Rocky Mountain News. He called it �just a lame effort by this organization to get publicity.� He said that Focus was in compliance with all government regulations.

Focus on the Family announced on December 1 that it was severing its relationship with banking giant Wells Fargo for making contributions to a gay organization, in this case, GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

�Earlier this year we learned that Wells Fargo gave a matching gift to a pro-homosexual group to enable it to raise more money to fight organizations like our own. As one of Wells Fargo�s customers, we objected, and we received no satisfactory resolution,� Focus president Jim Daly explained in a released statement.

Wells Fargo is headquartered in San Francisco. It is common practice among large corporations to match the individual donations of employees to nonprofit organizations, though some will only do so for certain types of organizations such as colleges and universities.



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