CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In a Tuesday letter to President Barack Obama, Franklin Graham charged that the two N.C. charities he leads were also targeted by the IRS for political reasons.
Graham, who heads both the Charlotte-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Boone-based Samaritan’s Purse, said in his letter that an IRS agent visited both organizations last October to conduct a review for the tax year ending in 2010.
(Read the letter here)
This attention from the IRS came the same year the BGEA purchased full-page newspaper ads addressed to voters, Graham pointed out. In April, the group urged N.C. voters to approve a proposed constitutional amendment reaffirming the state ban on same-sex marriage. Then, during last fall’s presidential campaign, another BGEA ad encouraged voters to cast their ballots “for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles.”
Given the recent revelations about the IRS targeting conservative organizations with “Tea Party” and “Patriot” in their titles, Graham said in his letter that he now believes the IRS’ reviews of the BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse were part of the same effort to target conservative groups.
After the November election, the Graham-led charities were notified that the IRS had affirmed their tax-exempt status. But, before then, Graham said the organizations had to spend “precious resources” – money contributed by donors for ministry purposes – “servicing the IRS agents in our offices.”
In his letter to the Democratic president, Graham, who has talked up GOP candidates in recent years, said: “I am bringing this to your attention because I believe that someone in the (Obama) administration was targeting and attempting to intimidate us. This is morally wrong and unethical – indeed some would call it ‘unAmerican.’ ”
Graham was traveling overseas Tuesday and was not available for comment.
A White House spokeswoman had no immediate comment.