November 01, 2004

I got quoted in Newsday piece on NAACP-IRS rift

I've had a busy weekend (as would be expected this close to the election).

A reporter from New York Newsday called Friday, looking for some commentary regarding the IRS questions regarding the NAACP's "non-partisan" stance.

I let her have it with both barrels.

As a black Southern conservative, Michael King says he has felt "antagonized" by the NAACP. So when he learned Friday that the IRS was investigating whether the nonprofit civil rights organization violated restrictions on political activity, he said his first thought was: It's been a long time coming.

"If you don't march in step with their views, they have no use for you," said King, 41, about the NAACP. "On the contrary, they will do everything that they can to tear you down."

Like many nonprofit groups, the NAACP trades its right to endorse a political candidate or participate in campaigns for tax exemption. But at its annual convention this summer in Philadelphia, the group's chairman criticized a wide range of President George W. Bush's policies, from education to the war in Iraq, a move that some said led to the IRS threatening to invalidate the group's tax-exempt status.

"This is still America and freedom of speech is what America is all about," said Hazel Dukes, president of the New York State Conference of NAACP Branches. ". . . The attitude of this administration has always been that if you are not with me, you are against me and I'll be against you and any act of intimidation will occur."

NAACP Chairman Julian Bond said the investigation is an attempt by the Bush administration to distract the group from mobilizing black voters in the days before the election.

Frederick Brewington, a civil rights attorney and former vice president of the Lakeview chapter of the NAACP, echoed Bond's allegations. "This is a blatant attempt by Bush and the IRS to chill the First Amendment rights of African-Americans across the country," he said.

In a statement Thursday, IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson denied any partisan motive and said, "Any suggestion that the IRS has tilted its audit activities for political purposes is repugnant and groundless."

Presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry sent a letter Friday to Assistant Attorney General Alexander Acosta, calling on him to investigate how the IRS initiated the examination.

"If the timing of this process leads some to believe politics is at play, it could have a chilling impact on African-Americans' participation in the American political process," Kerry wrote.

The NAACP has never been shy about its troubled relationship with the Bush administration. Bush declined to speak at the very convention that has brought the group's political participation into question.

King, who lives in Atlanta and is a member of the black conservative group Project 21, said the NAACP has universally supported Democratic candidates, excluding right-leaning blacks, like himself, from seeking membership. He applauded an investigation into what he called the NAACP's illegal behavior.

But Ralph G. Neas, president of the liberal group People for the American Way, said the NAACP has always taken pride in its nonpartisan status and ability to criticize public officials from all political parties.

Ed Williams, president of the Far Rockaway NAACP in Queens, agreed. "The Republicans are reaching at straws," Williams said.

Staff writers Monte R. Young and Merle English contributed to this story.

Of course, Jesse Jackson was on Tom Joyner's syncidated radio show this morning, vilifying the IRS and anyone who supported their actions. After all, he could tell his lemmings "faithful" anything he wanted.

Then again, I'm not challenging that -- but if he violates rules that prohibit 501c3-based tax exempt organizations from endorsing a candidate, then he needs to be subject to the same rules that everyone else is. Period.

Posted by mhking at November 1, 2004 11:37 AM

Way to go Michael!

Posted by: Fausta at November 1, 2004 02:11 PM


You should have hyped your blog, too. Something like, "And I've got more to say about it. Visit me at!"

Posted by: LB at November 1, 2004 02:22 PM

The law for thee but not for me? Good coverage of your viewpoint, though. Congrats.

Posted by: Sissy Willis at November 1, 2004 03:54 PM

Good comments. But since Michael Steele is an NAACP member, how are people from "the right" disallowed to join?

Posted by: DarkStar at November 1, 2004 08:56 PM

That was the one spot where I was misquoted (I pointed out Shannon Reeves' role as chair of the Oakland, CA NAACP -- Reeves is secretary of the California state GOP).

Posted by: Michael at November 1, 2004 10:41 PM

Ok, I knew you knew better. :)

Posted by: DarkStar at November 2, 2004 08:35 AM

Excellent Michael!!

well spoken sir.
and may I add, kudos to newsday for seeking a true voice of black conservatives to counter the blatherings of the NAACP's 'teflon don', rev. Jackson.

Posted by: Pudge at November 3, 2004 11:40 PM
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