In 2005, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and other liberal watchdog groups sent complaints to the IRS against Focus on the Family. In the complaints, they alleged that Dr. James Dobson and Focus on the Family had engaged in unlawful political activities that justified revocation of their tax exempt status. In 2006, the IRS began an investigation of Focus on the Family that included all their publications, radio broadcasts, and internet communications, especially those that mentioned public officials and political candidates.
The issue was whether Dr. Dobson had improperly endorsed any candidates for public office and whether Focus on the Family had otherwise engaged in political intervention, activity which is prohibited to organizations income tax exempt under Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3). An IRS closing letter, dated August 30, 2007, states that: “Our examination revealed that Dr. Dobson’s reported remarks did not occur in publications of Focus on the Family, did not occur at functions of Focus on the Family, and did not involve Dr. Dobson suggesting that he was speaking as a representative of Focus on the Family. As such, we are closing our examination without any change to our recognition of Focus on the Family as an organization described in section 501(c)(3).”
James Bopp, Jr., special counsel for Focus on the Family, says: “This is a huge victory for Dr. Dobson and Focus on the Family. No ministry is more careful than this one in complying with all the complex Federal and state laws regulating non-profit organizations. The fact that the IRS did such a thorough review, and found no violations, is a credit to Dr. Dobson, the Focus on the Family compliance team, and their desire to be a law-abiding organization.”
James Bopp, Jr., is special counsel for Focus on the Family. He and his law firm, Bopp, Coleson & Bostrom, have been responsible for the creation, incorporation, and organization of Focus on the Family Action and for compliance with all Federal and state non-profit regulations for Focus on the Family and Focus on the Family Action’s lobbying and political activities. He has a national federal and state election law and non-profit compliance practice.
Those of you familiar with Focus on the Family will immediately recognize it as the biggest anti-gay bigoted organization in the country next to Donald Wildmon's American Family Association. It should come as no surprise Bopp would be representing the group. Bopp served as the religious right's leading legal proponent of SJR-7, the proposed constitutional amendment in Indiana to ban gay marriages and other rights for unmarried couples, both straight and gay.
Advance Indiana has pointed out numerous examples over the last couple of years where Eric Miller of Advance America and Micah Clark of the American Family Association of Indiana have stepped over the line and endorsed conservative Republican candidates in Indiana under the banner of their not-for-profit organizations. The decision of the IRS in Dobson's case makes a mockery of the prohibition on political activity by these groups. This is just a continuation in a long line of success Jim Bopp is having in our federal courts and federal agencies, where he has found a receptive ear from conservative Republican appointees who are hell-bent on establishing sectarian rule in this country by an American-like Taliban. This has helped solidify Jim Bopp's position as the most powerful and frightening attorney in America at the same time.
With his ability to direct hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions each election cycle in Indiana alone, Bopp has become the most powerful political force in Indiana politics. As the state party's GOP treasurer and its legal counsel, Bopp firmly entrenched his presence within the Indiana GOP. When a vacancy opened up for a spot on the Republican National Committee, Bopp asked for and received the appointment from Gov. Mitch Daniels. Bopp, on behalf of the religious right, is directing the purse strings for this year's mayoral races in Indiana. His favorites are wingnuts Matt Kelty in Fort Wayne and Juan Manigault in South Bend. You may recall Bopp, in defending the now-indicted Kelty on campaign finance-related charges and perjury, bullied a Republican-controlled election board in Allen Co. into ruling that Kelty's failure to disclose a six-figure lone from one of Bopp's religious right friends was not illegal. Fortunately, a seasoned prosecutor convinced a grand jury otherwise to the relief of election law experts.
Bopp's win this week for Dobson from the IRS should be viewed no differently than his performance in front of the Allen Co. Election Board. The Bush-run IRS is simply protecting the religious right so that it can continue to use its vast empire of well-funded not-for-profits to elect conservative, moralist Republicans to office. People need to wake up to what's happening. And I'm primarily directing that to Republicans. As you pause to remember 9/11, you might want to think about how far some religious zealots are willing to go to impose their religious laws on us. Our founding fathers created a constitutional wall separating church from state for good reason. These folks are determined to tear down that wall, and they're making a lot of headway nationwide under Bopp's legal leadership.