IRS Has Cleared NAACP

From the Associated Press

The NAACP did not violate the conditions of its tax-exempt status when its chairman gave a speech that criticized President Bush, according to a newly released letter from the Internal Revenue Service to the civil rights group.

The IRS notified the Baltimore-based National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People in October 2004 that it was looking into a July 2004 speech by NAACP Chairman Julian Bond that was largely critical of Bush’s policies.

Political campaigning is prohibited under the NAACP’s tax-exempt status.

The IRS determined after a review of video footage of the speech, as well as other information, that “political intervention did not occur,” the IRS said in a letter dated Aug. 9.


Bruce S. Gordon, president and chief executive of the NAACP, said the group had been vindicated.

“It’s disappointing that the IRS took nearly two years to conclude what we knew from the beginning -- the NAACP did not violate tax laws and continues to be politically nonpartisan,” Gordon said in a statement Thursday.

In his speech at the NAACP’s annual convention in Philadelphia, Bond said of the Bush administration: “They preach racial neutrality and practice racial division. They’ve tried to patch the leaky economy and every other domestic problem with duct tape and plastic sheets. They write a new constitution of Iraq and they ignore the Constitution here at home.”

The civil rights group said that it had a long history of criticizing presidents and their policies and that Bond criticized both political parties during the speech.

“I’ve been a critic of the Bush administration since it began, as I was with the Clinton administration before that,” Bond said.

Relations between the Bush administration and the NAACP have warmed since Gordon took over as CEO in 2005. Bush spoke to the NAACP convention this year for the first time in his White House tenure.