Huck’s religious supporters at least made a half-hearted attempt to play by the rules. Not so the good Rev. Wright, although I can’t knock his political savvy: The IRS has revoked only two churches’ tax exemptions in the past 54 years so he might as well put the pedal to the metal and dare them to single out the congregation frequented by America’s first black presidential candidate for special treatment.
A review by The Wall Street Journal of 13 sermons at Trinity seen live or through church-recorded DVDs since late December found nine instances of ministers at Trinity appearing to promote Sen. Obama’s candidacy.
Some of the sermons mentioned Sen. Clinton or her husband in unflattering ways. During that Christmas morning sermon, Mr. Wright declared that Hillary Clinton “ain’t had to work twice as hard just to get accepted by the rich white folk who run everything or to get a passing grade when you know you are smarter than that ‘C’ student sitting in the White House.” On Jan. 13, Mr. Wright told the Trinity congregation that some people say, “‘Hillary is married to Bill and Bill [has] been good to us.'” Mr. Wright continued, “No, he ain’t!” Sen. Clinton’s campaign didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Ellen Aprill, an associate dean at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and a former adviser to the Treasury Department on matters including nonprofit tax law, says she believes those sermons are “clearly a violation. They’re naming names.”
Donald Tobin, an associate dean at Ohio State University law school, who formerly worked for the Justice Department on nonprofit tax matters, adds that nonprofits cannot make endorsements or engage in a “pattern and practice that is designed to support one candidate over another.” After being read sections of the Trinity sermons by the Journal, he said, “There does seem to be a pattern of attempting to tip the scales in a way for Barack Obama. And churches shouldn’t be doing that.”
Doubtless a stern warning letter will correct the problem. Speaking of Huck, today’s the deadline for filing to run for senate in Arkansas. No news on the wires that I can see. We’ve lost him.