Attorney General Eric Holder and IRS officials reportedly coached black ministers on how to engage in political activity without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status during the 2012 election.
Holder, then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman, and Peter Lorenzetti, a senior official in the IRS’s exempt organizations division, participated in a May 2012 training session for ministers from the Conference of National Black Churches at the Capitol hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus.
Holder’s speaking engagement at the event was “highly problematic,” one legal expert said.
“[The CBC] had the IRS members there specifically to advise them on how far to go campaigning without violating their tax-exempt status,” George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley told the Daily Caller.
“I viewed the meeting as highly problematic. Eric Holder heads the agency that prosecutes organizations who give false information to the government. The Justice Department coordinates with the IRS on actions taken against not-for-profits.
“These ministries are given not-for-profit status on the basis that they are not engaging in any political activities. Here, the Obama administration was clearly encouraging them to maximize their efforts by showing them where the lines were drawn in federal case law.”
The Daily Caller noted Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat from Missouri who headed the Congressional Black Caucus at the time, was clear on the purpose of the session and who would attend.
“We’re going to, first of all, equip them with the information they need to know about what they can say and what they cannot say in the church that would violate their 501(c)(3) status with the IRS,” he said.