Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) recently requested an IRS review of two nonprofit organizations, the Abstinence Clearinghouse, a national organization opposed to comprehensive sexuality education, and the Alpha Center, a crisis pregnancy center. Both organizations are headed, and were founded by, Leslee Unruh.1
In their letter to the IRS, CREW states that the Abstinence Clearinghouse and the Alpha Center have both violated tax law by not reporting any lobbying activities, even though CREW has found that they both engage in such actions. In addition, CREW claims that the Alpha Center has violated additional tax law by endorsing a candidate for office. Both organizations are classified as nonprofit organizations and receive special status as a result. This allows them to avoid income tax and receive tax exempt donations. By law, such nonprofits cannot have lobbying efforts be a substantial part of their work and are prohibited from endorsing candidates.
In their letter to the IRS, CREW includes multiple examples of lobbying activities by Leslee Unruh in her positions as the executive directors of both organizations. Prominent among their examples is Unruh's work to pass a ban on abortion in South Dakota. CREW also quotes from an electronic newsletter sent from the Alpha Center to its supporters to substantiate that the Alpha Center has endorsed a candidate. The newsletter stated that, “Mr. Stratman is a strong proponent of parents' rights and traditional values, including abstinence education. His election to the school board would ensure a strong voice for the safety and well-being of our children.”2 At the time the newsletter was released, Mr. Stratman was a candidate for the Sioux Falls school board and a board member of both the Alpha Center and the Abstinence Clearinghouse.
According to Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, “NAC [Abstinence Clearinghouse] and Alpha Center have a clear pattern of flagrantly flouting the laws that govern charitable organizations. The IRS should immediately investigate these organizations and revoke their tax-exempt status. Considering their egregious conduct, neither group is entitled to the tax benefits they presently enjoy.”3
To view the complete letter, please see: http://www.citizensforethics.org/press/newsrelease.php?view=141 .
- Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, “CREW Files IRS Complaint Against S.D., Abstinence-Only Orgs–Alpha Center, National Abstinence Clearinghouse,” Press Release published on 26 July 2006, accessed 17 August 2006, <http://www.citizensforethics.org/press/newsrelease.php?view=141>.
- Ibid, 7.