Sunday, June 8, 2014

Idaho Legislator, Defeated in GOP Primary, Filing Complaint Against Churches for Politicking

Posted By on Sun, Jun 8, 2014 at 10:00 AM

An Idaho legislator, who lost in the recent GOP primary, says he plans to file formal complaints with the Internal Revenue Service this coming week, claiming that several North Idaho pastors crossed the line during election season.

This morning's Coeur d'Alene Press reports that Hayden Republican Rep. Ed Morse is pointing to a political flier, distributed by the Kootenai Family Council Political Action Committee and handed out by a number of North Idaho churches the weekend prior to the May 20 primary. The flier included the political positions of a number of GOP candidates on two issues: the creation of a state-run health insurance exchange and the adoption of the Common Core education curriculum.

Morse was defeated by GOP challenger Eric Redman, who, according the Press, has direct ties to one of the creators of the Kootenai Family Council PAC.

"This was a thumb on the scale by the local churches," Morse told the Press, adding that it is his belief that the flier violates Article 5 of IRS tax-exempt rules governing such activities.

The founders of the PAC—a pastor and the leader of a support group for home-school families—refused to comment or did not return calls from the Press requesting comment. Meanwhile, two local pastors contacted by the Press confirmed that they distributed the fliers, but as individuals, not church leaders. However, one of the pastors "gave instructions on how to interpret the guide" in an email to his congregation, while the other said he put the fliers in his church to inform his congregation but looked at it no different than the promotion of a movie or radio station.

"What they did was just wrong," Morse told the Press.

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