The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), whose leader publicly celebrated Hamas’s October 7 massacre of Israelis—and then ridiculously attempted to deny it—appears to have admitted to violating its federal tax-exempt status by working to elect President Joe Biden.
“Our community mobilized to put Biden in power after Donald Trump. . . . It hurts. It hurts deeply,” said Basim Elkarra, the executive-director of CAIR-California’s Sacramento Valley and Central California chapter.
The statement was made during a hearing for a lawsuit filed against the Biden Administration for its support of Israel. The lawsuit was filed by a coalition of groups and individuals who have publicly supported Hamas.
CAIR’s X account then amplified the statement by quoting it in its own post.
CAIR would never contest the fact that it is one of the most influential—if not the most influential—organizations in the Muslim American community. The CAIR chapter leader’s statement that he and the community feel personally hurt because of their contributions to the Biden campaign’s victory against Trump seems to clearly violate the laws that regulate its nonprofit status.
According to the IRS website:
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. [emphasis added]
In other words, the federal government exempts certain types of nonprofits from paying federal corporate income tax on the condition that they do not intervene in political elections. There are various arguments for (and against) this policy, but this is what Congress legislated.
Mobilizing to elect Biden president in the latest election appears to clearly violate this prohibition.
A Previous Violation?
This is apparently not CAIR’s first violation. In September 2015, CAIR took an official position that Dr. Ben Carson, then a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, should end his campaign after he said he would “absolutely not” support a Muslim for president because Islam is inconsistent with the Constitution.
“We ask Mr. Ben Carson to withdraw from the presidential race because he is unfit to lead because his views are in contradiction with the U.S. Constitution,” CAIR’s executive director said at a news conference.
Carson later altered his position and said he could support a Muslim for president if “clearly swear to place our Constitution above their religion” and “renounced the central tenet of Islam: Sharia Law.”
At issue is not Carson’s personal views about Islam’s compatibility with the Constitution and whether he could support a Muslim presidential candidate. CAIR is free to express agreement or disagreement with those opinions. Nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations are also free to consistently criticize or support a candidate’s positions that fall under their purview.
The issue is that CAIR directly participated in the presidential campaign by officially opposing Carson’s candidacy and urging him to drop out, which would seem to constitute a “public statement . . . in opposition to any candidate for public office” in violation of the IRS code .
Based on the IRS’s lack of action in this previous instance, it is easy to see why CAIR felt emboldened enough to support the Biden campaign and now actually admit to doing so. It is that same feeling of empowerment and invincibility that led its leader to openly praise Hamas’s murdering and kidnapping of over 1,200 Israelis on October 7 after decades of trying to deny that it is pro-Hamas.
When a major nonprofit organization feels so impervious to consequences that it openly endorses terrorism and brazenly violates the IRS code governing nonprofits, something is seriously wrong with the U.S. government and the world of philanthropy.