Saturday, April 21, 2007

"Nonprofit" AFA Endorses South Bend Mayoral Candidate

A story by the South Bend Tribune's James Wensits reports that the American Family Association of Indiana has endorsed conservative GOP candidate Juan Manigault for South Bend mayor. According to the Indiana Secretary of State's records and its own website, the AFA of Indiana is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation. Such organizations 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. Wensits writes:

A pair of statewide conservative, pro-family organizations have given their support to Republican mayoral candidate Juan Manigault.

The endorsements were made by Indiana Family Action and the American Family Association, both based in Indianapolis and both related to national conservative organizations.

Indiana Family Action is affiliated with Dr. James Dobson's national Focus on the Family group, while American Family Association of Indiana has ties with the national American Family Association headed by the Rev. Donald Wildmon in Tupelo, Miss . . .

Micah Clark, Indiana AFA director, said in a statement released by the candidate that he is "very excited about the candidacy of Juan Manigault."

Clark described Manigault as someone who can "reach across political, social, cultural and racial boundaries to build a consensus among all types of voters who share his common sense values, his work ethic and his vision to make South Bend a better place to work, live, worship and raise a family."

Swayze said that the two state groups combined last month to pay for a full-page newspaper advertisement in The Tribune that supported a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Indiana Family Action is a PAC. There is a separate AFA of Indiana PAC as well, but the news story doesn't indicate it was the PAC which made the endorsement. Even if the AFA's PAC made the endorsement instead of its nonprofit sister, it is still a problem because a 501(c)(3), unlike 501(c)(4) organizations, are not allowed to form political action committees under federal tax rules. The endorsement statements supportive of Manigault's candidacy are also expressed by Micah Clark, who most assuredly serves as the nonprofit's executive director, further blurring the lines between any distinction between action taken by the nonprofit organization versus the PAC.

Reading Wensit's story makes it clear why the AFA is backing Manigault: he's anti-gay. Wensit reports on a question Manigault was recently asked about his position on a human rights ordinance which was narrowly voted down by the South Bend Council last year:

During a forum for mayoral candidates Thursday at Indiana University South Bend, Manigault was asked in an audience-submitted question whether he could "separate your personal religious beliefs from your duties as a civic leader," and "how does this play into your views on discrimination against the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) community?"

Manigault said that as mayor, he would be mayor of all citizens. "But I'm also a man of faith, and that guides my decision-making.""I'm a man of color. I know what discrimination is," Manigault said.

The candidate said he does not believe in special rights for any particular group, other than groups that "it's obvious, like myself, or African-Americans, or women."

For groups that it's hard to determine what their sexual preferences (are), I don't support special rights for that population," Manigault said, "because I believe strongly, and in my heart, that those individuals are already protected under the Constitution."

Manigault said he would support and work hard to ensure that every citizen in the city is not discriminated against, "but I will not support special rights."

Manigault's primary opponent, Terry Miller, indicated he opposed discrimination but had some problems with how it was defined in the defeated ordinance. "Miller said the definition of bisexual is difficult and has not been defined well in state law." "That whole definition of what bisexual is has got to be worked on before the city can add that to the sexual discrimination laws that we have," he said."I'm not sure what the answer is for that, but I think that is why the city council did not go forward with that last year." I'm not quite sure what Miller is trying to say here, but I think he may be a little confused.

Mayor Stephen Luecke, for his part, remains unabashed in his support of a human rights ordinance. "When I pledge allegiance to the flag, I say 'with liberty and justice for all,' and that's what it means to me," Luecke said."There should not be any discrimination in this community against people because of sexual preference."I would support an ordinance to that effect. There should not be discrimination in terms of housing, there should not be discrimination in terms of employment."It's very important for all individuals to have the opportunity that is promised to all individuals in this country," Luecke said.


Jacob Perry said...

Surely there are homosexual organizations that do political activism, and even openly or otherwise support candidates. Is there a difference?

Surely most Christians agree with me on that score.

Anonymous said...

Scribe, I'm a Christian, and I don't subscribe to any group, Christian or not, that breaks the law.

AFA has clearly done so.

Monday morning...I'm filing a compaint with the IRS. Someone has got to stop these clows in their tracks.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I can contribute to HRC to promote GLBT issues. The difference is that my contributions to HRC aren't tax-deductible as they are for people who contribute to the AFA.

Gary R. Welsh said...

From the IRS handbook for not-for-profits:

If any of the activities (whether or not substantial) of your organization consists of participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office, your organization will not qualify for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3). Such participation or intervention includes the publishing or distributing of statements."

Anonymous said...

The AFA website is a joke of lost links and pages never finished. They don't seem to update much except their home and archive pages. Their "Support" link takes you to the AFA page of a site called "" - which leads one to speculate where all the money that is contributed to them goes since that site.

Anonymous said...

Concerning the Advance Indiana post at 2:38PM.

Wouldn't that include the full page adverts that the AFA takes out deriding a member of the legislature, such as the one against Stillwell, Bauer and Austin?

If you look too at just the front page of the AFA compared to the IFI it appears that the AFA is much more politicized. I imagine that comes from the mind of Micah Clark. Seems to blur the lines a lot.

Gary R. Welsh said...

This is all academic. Nothing will come of it. They've been getting by with it for years, and they will continue doing it for many more years. Nobody in the mainstream media will say anything about it because they're either afraid of offending someone, or they're just too lazy to do anything about it. The IRS has shown no inclination to take on these phony nonprofits in any meaningful way. As a consequence, you and I will continue subsidizing these groups with our tax dollars to enrich Micah Clark, Eric Miller, Curt Smith et al so they can make keep Hoosiers in the dark ages.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Gary. I've linked to you in my coverage of the AFA's latest advertisement against Russ Stilwell.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Thanks, Bil.