As many of you know, in recent weeks a shadowy group tied to the tax-exempt Clarion Fund have circulated 28 million copies of "Obsession", a 2006 video. The video is designed to heighten fears about violent Muslims and raise the alarm about "radical Islam."
The film is complementary to efforts by other activists to alert the public of "Islamo-facism," a term that is indiscriminately applied to denote a variety of Muslim groups and activities. Shatz has done a bit of detective work to determine who stands behind the Clarion Fund. He notes that the group avoids an express endorsement of John McCain, but its narrative fits well with whispering campaigns intended to lined Barack Obama to Islam and to Muslim extremists. Even so, it remains to be determined whether the group's effort to influence the upcoming U.S. election is a violation of IRS regulations. Tax-exempt groups under section 501 (c) 3 of the IRS Code are specifically prohibited by IRS regulations from seeking to influence political campaigns.
Here is the relevant IRS standard:
"Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) 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. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes."
LRB · Adam Shatz: Short Cuts