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Hundreds of churches across Va. air ad with Kamala Harris, appearing to violate IRS rule

Hundreds of churches across Virginia started airing a political ad that includes Vice President Kamala Harris urging viewers to vote for Terry McAuliffe for governor over the weekend — elevating questions concerning the legality of the commercial being aired in homes of worship. 

The video commercial, first obtained by CNN, is about to be aired in 300 churches across the state from Oct. 17 by way of Nov. 2. The vp is the star of the ad, through which she calls McAuliffe “the leader Virginia needs at this moment.”

Harris begins off the ad by citing her personal expertise in a church rising up, recalling singing hymns about “how faith combined with determination will see us through difficult times.” 

She referred to as on Virginians to “raise your voice through your vote,” urging viewers to solid their poll for the previous Democratic governor of the state. 

McAuliffe, who has been steadily slipping within the polls, is going through off towards Republican Glenn Youngkin. 

Harris’ marketing campaign video drew broad criticism over the weekend, with many questioning the legality of its airing due to guidelines set by the Internal Revenue Service that stop churches and charities from getting concerned in political campaigns. 

An ad featuring Vice President Kamala Harris endorsing Terry McAuliffe for governor of Virginia may have violated an IRS law by airing in churches.
An ad that includes Vice President Kamala Harris endorsing Terry McAuliffe for governor of Virginia might have violated an IRS rule by airing in churches.

The regulation, permitted by Congress in 1954, prohibits 501(c)(3) organizations — together with churches and charities — from “engaging in any political campaign activity.” 

“Currently, the law prohibits political campaign activity by charities and churches by defining a 501(c)(3) organization as one ‘which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office,’ ” the IRS website states.

The Secular Coalition for America, an advocacy lobbying group which describes itself as “representing the interests of atheists, humanists, freethinkers, agnostics, and other nontheistic Americans,” slammed the ad as an “inappropriate mixing of government, politics, and religion.”

“Using religious institutions for politicking is not new nor is it a feature of a single party or theology. It is a bipartisan problem that’s been frequent during the VA gubernatorial campaign,” they wrote in a tweet. 

McAuliffe is running for governor against Republican Glenn Youngkin.
McAuliffe is operating for governor towards Republican Glenn Youngkin.
AP Photo/Steve Helber

Christian creator Ed Stetzer merely referred to as the marketing campaign a “bad idea.”

“This is a bad idea, @VP. It was bad when the Republicans did it, and it is bad when the Democrats do it. When you mix politics and religion, you get politics,” he tweeted.

Politicians additionally questioned the legality of the commercial. 

“Not only is this legally questionable but it’s ironic a politician who supports extreme abortion practices is targeting people of faith,” Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) said.

The IRS didn’t instantly reply to The Post’s request for remark. 

The airing of the ad comes as one other member of the Biden administration, White House press secretary Jen Psaki, has come underneath hearth for involving herself within the Virginia governor’s race. 

On Friday, Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington, a authorities watchdog group, filed a grievance accusing Psaki of violating the federal Hatch Act by praising McAuliffe throughout her common briefing Thursday.

The complaint to the Office of Special Counsel alleged Psaki improperly used her workplace to have an effect on the end result of subsequent month’s election.

Psaki had been requested whether or not the Biden administration thought-about McAuliffe’s race towards Youngkin a “bellwether” forward of the 2022 midterm elections.

“Well, I have to be a little careful about how much political analysis I do from here,” Psaki started earlier than saying that President Biden “of course wants former Governor McAuliffe to be the future governor of Virginia. There is alignment on a lot of their agenda, whether it is the need to invest in rebuilding our roads, rails, and bridges, or making it easier for women to rejoin the workforce.”

“We’re going to do everything we can to help former Governor McAuliffe, and we believe in the agenda he’s representing,” she concluded.

The Office of Special Counsel was unable to touch upon or affirm if it has any particular open Hatch Act investigations, when requested for remark by The Post.

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