The largest Muslim civil rights group in the U.S. may have violated the federal tax code when its executive director last week called on retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson to drop out of the presidential race because of his comments about Muslims.
During an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” earlier this month, Carson said that he would not support a Muslim president.
“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that,” Carson said. The comment led to backlash from Democrats and many Muslims.
Nihad Awad, the executive director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), responded in a press conference last Monday, calling on Carson to end his bid for the White House.
“We ask Mr. Ben Carson to withdraw from the presidential race because he’s unfit to lead because his views are in contradiction with the United States Constitution,” Awad said.
In calling for Carson to end his White House bid, Awad argued that Carson’s comments were in violation of the Constitution which states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust of the United States.”
But Fox News’ Megyn Kelly reported on Tuesday that Awad’s statement may put CAIR in violation of federal tax law.
As Kelly noted, the section of the Internal Revenue Code which sets rules for non-profit — section 501(c)(3) — states that such organizations “are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”
Kelly stated on air that CAIR had not responded to a request for comment.
Carson’s campaign has responded to backlash from his remarks, saying that the candidate does not propose prohibiting Muslims from running for president.
“He did not say that a Muslim should be prevented from running, or barred from running in any way,” Carson campaign spokesman Doug Watts told NBC News. “He [Carson] just doesn’t believe the American people are ready for that.”