For a former prosecutor and state attorney general, Kamala Harris must not have much respect for the law.
Granted, she’s the vice president in an administration that has been ignoring and suborning American laws from its first day — allowing a flood of illegal immigrants into the country in a crisis that has come to define the Joe Biden presidency.
But a video Harris made to pump up support for the Democratic candidate in Virginia’s election for governor has gone from bending the law to blatantly breaking it — and a constitutional scholar is calling her out on it.
The video Harris recorded was tailor-made to play in Virginia’s black churches between now and the Nov. 2 election, according to the Washington Examiner.
Black churches are known for their political activism, of course. That political activism almost always favors Democratic candidates, as the Pew Research Center has documented, but there’s usually a fig leaf to comply with IRS regulations that govern political activity by tax-exempt organizations.
A get-out-the-vote campaign, for example, is acceptable activity. But, according to the IRS, appeals to support a specific candidate are not.
And that’s where Harris’ video comes in.
VP Harris implores congregants to vote following church service. The McAuliffe campaign has embraced “Souls to the Polls,” block-party style events featuring top campaign surrogates after church near polling locations, to drive turnout.#VAGOVhttps://t.co/vaefXtWqUe pic.twitter.com/yGuIL6e7Fz
— Eva McKend (@evamckend) October 16, 2021
After some pablum about her childhood singing in church (presumably when she wasn’t shouting “fweedom!” at civil rights marches), Harris’s recorded remarks cut right to endorsing Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate for governor and joined-at-the-hip crony of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
“Terry McAuliffe has a long track record of getting things done for the people of Virginia,” Harris said, among other remarks.
McAuliffe, she said, wants to raise the minimum wage, to “make health care more affordable, to give every child a world-class education” (even if he doesn’t want parents involved in schools.)
There was plenty, plenty more along those lines – all specifically written to be delivered to congregations of churches whose tax exemptions depend on avoiding exactly that kind of activity.
Under the Johnson amendment — legislation named for then-Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson, who went on to become the country’s 36th president — IRS regulations allow tax-exempt groups to engage in activities to advance general goals. Campaigns such as get-out-the-vote “would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner,” the IRS website states.
“On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.”
It would be hard to write words that more blatantly violated the letter and spirit of that rule than Harris’ endorsement.
It’s not hard to guess why Democrats are pulling out all the stops on the Virginia race. Given how badly the first year of the Biden presidency has gone, from the border crisis to the Afghanistan disgrace to inflation hitting home for American workers, a defeat for Democrats in what should be a reliably blue heavy with government workers in the area surrounding Washington would be a smashing defeat for the progressive agenda.
Virginia is crucial for Democrats. But that doesn’t mean Kamala Harris gets to break the law to swing the vote.
And for Jonathan Turley, one of the country’s best-known constitutional law experts, that’s exactly what the Harris video was doing.
“It is part of McAuliffe’s push called ‘Souls to the Polls’ and is a full-throated endorsement of McAuliffe that calls on black churches to turn out for his election,” Turley wrote on JonathanTurley.org. “Harris declares, ‘I believe that my friend Terry McAuliffe is the leader Virginia needs at this moment.’
“The problem is that such direct politicking in tax-exempt churches has been unlawful for decades.”
The IRS warns that such violations will not be tolerated because tax-exempt groups “are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) October 18, 2021
“The IRS warns that such violations will not be tolerated,” Turley wrote in a Twitter post.
Turley is known as a liberal scholar, but one who isn’t shy about bucking the liberal line when he sees they’ve gone too far – such as in 2019 with the first impeachment of then-President Donald Trump.
And it’s clear he’s not beholden to the Biden White House, given his very public criticisms of the exploits of Hunter Biden (and the media’s disgraceful coverage of them.)
So when he takes a stand on a major issue, Americans on both sides of the aisle should be listening closely.
And Turley’s stand on the Harris video is clear. The vice president of the United States has made a blatant political advertisement specifically and deliberately written for airing in a religious setting.
“In 2020, more Virginians voted than ever before, and because you did, you helped send President Joe Biden and me to the White House,” Harris said.
“This year, I know, that you will send Terry McAuliffe back to Richmond.
“So, early voting has already started, and this is the first year that you can vote on Sunday,” Harris said in the video. “So, please, vote after today’s service. And if you cannot vote today, make a plan to go vote.”
It’s tough to get more obvious than that.
And for Turley, that’s a problem. It should be for the rest of America, too.
“If this is indeed played in churches (as opposed to simply posted on Internet sites), it does appear a premeditated and unambiguous violation of the federal law governing churches as non-for-profit institutions,” he wrote.
A “premeditated and unambiguous violation of the federal law” sounds like the standard mode of the Biden administration — and the standard mode of its vice president.
Because for a woman who used to be the state attorney general in California and a district attorney before that, Harris clearly has no respect for the law.
CORRECTION, Oct. 19, 2021:This post originally misstated the date of Virginia’s gubernatorial election.
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