Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson is calling for the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), alleging that the organization has violated the IRS requirements for non-profit organizations by speaking out publicly against his candidacy.
Carson—who is running second only to Donald Trump in the Republican primary polls—cites comments by CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad that he should withdraw from the presidential race as evidence that the organization is failing to uphold the imperative not to directly intervene in elections that is required by its non-profit status.
Carson drew the ire of CAIR when he stated last month on NBC’s Meet the Press that “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.” He later clarified that he would support a Muslim presidential candidate who was “willing to reject those tenets and accept the way of life that we have and clearly will swear to place our Constitution above their religion.”
CAIR responded by holding a news conference on Capitol Hill decrying Carson’s comments and calling for his exit from the presidential race. CAIR National Executive Director Awad stated at that conference:
Mr. Ben Carson is wrong today to assume and say that American Muslims should not be president of the United States. His views are inconsistent with the United States Constitution… We ask Mr. Ben Carson to withdraw from the presidential race because he is unfit to lead because his views are in contradiction with the U.S. Constitution.
In response to Awad’s call for his withdrawal, Carson created a petition on his campaign website titled “IRS: Take Away Muslim Group’s Tax-Exempt Status.” The petition states:
The Council on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR), a U.S. Muslim group, recently demanded that I withdraw as candidate for the 2016 presidential race. By doing so, the organization has brazenly violated IRS rules prohibiting tax-exempt nonprofits like CAIR to intervene in a political campaign on behalf of—or in opposition to—a candidate. (Click video link to witness the violation.)
This is not the first time that CAIR has disrespected U.S. laws or America. It has previously lost its tax-exempt status by failing to file federal taxes three years in a row. It had also been named by federal prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal conspiracy to funnel money to Hamas, a terrorist organization.
The IRS should immediately revoke CAIR’s tax-exempt status. Under the Obama administration, the IRS has systematically targeted conservative nonprofit groups for politically motivated audits and harassment. The agency should now properly do its job and punish the real violators of America’s laws and regulations.
CAIR’s communications director, Ibrahim Cooper, responded to Carson’s petition, telling MSNBC:
We find it interesting that Dr. Carson seeks to use a federal government agency to silence his critics and wonder if that tactic would be used to suppress First Amendment freedoms should he become president.
CAIR is not in violation of any IRS regulation in that we did not ‘participate in’ or ‘intervene in’ any political campaign. We, as mandated by our mission as a civil rights organization, merely expressed the opinion of our community that a candidate whose views violate Article VI of the Constitution is unfit for public office.