Washington, D.C.—Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the IRS requesting an immediate investigation into whether Rodman Ride for Kids, a Massachusetts charity that describes its mission as working “to benefit disadvantaged youth from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds,” violated its status as a tax-exempt § 501(c)(3) organization.
On October 29, 2014, Don Rodman, president of Rodman Ride for Kids, sent an email from the group’s web address directly asking those who had signed up for email from Mr. Rodman’s charitable organization to vote for Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker.
CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan stated, “The law is clear: charitable organizations can’t advocate the election of specific candidates. Don Rodman has violated that law, plain and simple.”
In order to qualify for tax exemption under IRC § 501(c)(3), an organization must not participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. Activities that constitute participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate include, but are not limited to, the publication or distribution of written or printed statements on behalf of or in opposition to such a candidate.
Mr. Rodman’s email, sent from the address of Rodman Ride for Kids’ director of events and communications, said he would “like to share with you some of my thoughts on the upcoming election for Governor,” and went on to state, “This is why I am asking you to vote for Charlie Baker and Karyn Polito.”
Sending an email from the web address of a § 501(c)(3) organization to those who had signed up for the group’s emails urging them to vote for a specific candidate, Charlie Baker for governor, violates the IRS prohibition against electioneering.
Ms. Sloan continued, “Charities are not fronts for political campaigns. People who sign up for a charitable organization’s emails have a right not to receive unsolicited emails urging them to vote for anyone. Americans get more than enough of these sort of emails from candidates and parties. The IRS should take immediate action against Rodman Ride for Kids to stop Don Rodman from repeating his offense and to insure other groups don’t follow his lead.”
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