In the midst of a high-stakes, hotly-contested gubernatorial race in Virginia comes word that a campaign video recorded by Vice President Kamala Harris in support of Democrat Terry McAuliffe is set to be screened in 300 primarily Black churches across the state before Election Day, in what many claim is a gross violation of federal law, according to the New York Post.
Reports indicate that the video is poised to run in hundreds of houses of worship in the commonwealth, and it features Harris lavishing praise on McAuliffe while urging viewers to cast their ballots in support of the longtime Democrat operative who finds himself locked in a surprisingly tight battle with Republican Glenn Youngkin.
As the Washington Examiner notes, Harris tells prospective voters, “I believe that my friend Terry McAuliffe is the leader Virginia needs at this moment. Terry McAuliffe has a long track record of getting things done for the people of Virginia.” WATCH:
NEW — More than 300 Black churches across VA will hear from @KamalaHarris btwn Sun. and November 2 in video message that will air during morning services as part of outreach effort aimed to boost @TerryMcAuliffe.#VAGOV
— Eva McKend (@evamckend) October 16, 2021
It was not long after news of the video rollout that controversy erupted over the Democrats’ plans, with numerous commentators on social media and elsewhere emphasizing that an initiative of this nature was arguably an egregious violation of federal laws prohibiting partisan political activity by or within tax-exempt religious organizations.
As the Daily Wire’s Ryan Saavedra pointed out, the Internal Revenue Service itself says that ““the law prohibits political campaign activity by charities and churches by defining a 501(c)(3) organization as one ‘which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.’”
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley remarked that the Harris video puts churches that air it at real risk, considering that entities of that sort “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,” and that a violation “may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.”
Conservative activist Ned Ryun tweeted his belief that those opposed to such flagrant lawlessness should “find those 300 churches and file complaints with the IRS for each one,” adding that while no punishment would likely be exacted on those who break the rules in support of Democrats, “people should be put on notice.”
Indeed, high-powered Democrats, including Harris and McAuliffe, have put hundreds of predominately Black churches in very real legal jeopardy as a result of this stunt, but that is apparently of no material concern to party elites as long as the Virginia governor’s mansion continues to hang in the balance.