Trump Giving ‘Political Speech’ to Judicial Watch, Not Supposed to Do Politics

Trump Giving ‘Political Speech’ to Judicial Watch, Not Supposed to Do Politics

WASHINGTON – Donald Trump on Thursday promised to give a “big political speech” at the “annual conference” for Judicial Watch – a tax-exempt charity that is not supposed by law to be involved in politics at all.

The embattled former president, still smarting from a recent magazine story that described his 2024 bid as almost non-existent, claimed Thursday night’s appearance proved he was, in fact , campaigning.

“Giving a big political speech today at TRUMP DORAL, in Miami,” he wrote. “The Fake News says I’m not campaigning hard. I say they are stupid and corrupt, and the Election is still a long way off.”

His appearance will be hosted by Judicial Watch, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3). This allows donors to deduct their gifts to the group but also prevents it from engaging in politics.

Jill Farrell, director of communications for Judicial Watch, said she had no concerns about Trump’s planned remarks at a “private” event that does not allow news media coverage.

“This is not a campaign speech,” she told HuffPost. “There is no ‘there’.”

Robert Maguire of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said that Judicial Watch’s coziness with Trump is proof that the IRS is unable to enforce regulations on tax-exempt groups. “This is further evidence of the complete inability of the IRS to take action against these groups which are clearly political outfits using their tax exempt status as a shield,” he said.

Other tax-exempt groups were more careful to avoid politics.

When failed Republican candidate for Arizona governor Kari Lake appeared at the Turning Point USA conference last month in Phoenix, the group’s president Charlie Kirk made a point of coming on stage before revealing that his visit was being sponsored by TPUSA Action, 501 of charity. (c)(4) hand.

Organizations registered under that provision can engage in certain politics, and donations to them are not tax deductible.

On the tax forms for both 2019 and 2020, the most recent one available to the public, Judicial Watch ticked the box “NO” in response to the question: “Did the organization engage in direct or indirect campaign activities for or against the candidates. for public office?”

Lloyd Mayer, a professor and expert on tax-exempt organizations at the University of Notre Dame law school, said Judicial Watch had the right to invite Trump as a former president and would not be breaking rules as long as Trump was not speaking. about his campaign. “And even if Trump makes such a quote, if Judicial Watch ordered him to just take it off the script, the Judicial Watch would have a defense because he could claim that he took reasonable steps to avoid any mention of to avoid such,” said Mayer.

Marcus Owens, former head of the Exempt Organizations Division at the IRS, said Trump’s “narrowly tailored” speech about his experience as president was legitimate. “The challenge facing Judicial Watch is that it’s very hard to imagine Donald Trump staying on script and not talking about his political future,” he said.

Owens said the fact that the event is being held at a Trump property, with profits flowing directly into Trump’s pocket, was also strange. “It calls into question whether Judicial Watch is contributing to the Donald Trump campaign,” he said. “They are relying on the IRS not having the agents and the ability, financially, to audit Judicial Watch at this point.”

Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton has been a public supporter of Trump for years. According to an email discovered by a House committee on Jan. 6, Fitton advised Trump to announce on Oct. 31, 2020, election night regardless of the outcome: “We had an election today — and I won.”

Fitton sent another email on Election Day itself to remind Trump of an earlier memo. Soon after, in the wee hours of November 4, Trump took Fitton’s advice and declared: “Frankly, we won this election.”

Trump continued to lie about a “stolen” election for the next two months and tried to use his own vice president to declare him the winner of the election. The culmination of the effort was the violence at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, which left five police officers dead.

In a statement, Fitton told Judicial Watch that he was “honored” to have Trump speak to his supporters. “President Trump has waged a historic battle against government corruption and abuse, a battle that continues to this day,” Fitton said. “We are honored that he will address and educate Judicial Watch supporters about the rule of law crisis that threatens our republic.”

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