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defending the First Amendment against the Christian right ...

Jews On First!

... because if Jews don't speak out, they'll think we don't mind

December 2006. Court stops Kline prosecution of abortion provider. Click here.

Kline loses bid for reelection. Click here.

Kansas Attorney General writes orders for a reelection campaign operation "in each church"

Memo shows Republican Phill Kline's detailed plan for a church-based political machine

by JewsOnFirst.org, September 17, 2006

Links to reports and documents cited in these reports immediately follow them.

In a tough battle for reelection, Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline gave his campaign staff detailed instructions on how to use churches to raise funds, recruit campaign volunteers and collect voter contact information. He wrote the instructions in a memo obtained by news organizations and JewsOnFirst.org.

Kline writes that the "goal" of receptions, which his staff will organize to dovetail with church services, "is to walk away with contact information, money and volunteers and a committee in each church." He names three of the churches already involved in his campaign.
  What's wrong with this picture?

by JewsOnFirst, September 17, 2006

What's wrong with churches raising campaign funds, recruiting volunteers, signing up friendly voters, turning congregants out to vote -- and doing all this for one candidate in a partisan election? This describes exactly the work that Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline directs his staff to do with cooperating churches, as his memo, obtained by JewsOnFirst (see main story), makes explicitly clear.

What's wrong with Kline's staff reminding churches that hosting one candidate and not inviting competing candidates is okay, as long as churches don't deny a platform to the competitors (if they find out about the event and ask for an invitation)? What's wrong with churches following those guidelines, crafted by Kansas' top attorney?

To begin with, it is certainly an abuse of churches' tax-exempt status. If the practices Kline recommends are not outright illegal, they certainly stretch the letter of the law to the snapping point. And they ought to be explicitly banned as legitimate activities for tax-exempt organizations.

It is important to consider that the very week that the Kline memo surfaced, the Bush administration's Internal Revenue Service issued a sweeping subpoena to All Saints Church in Pasadena, California for documents concerning the church's activities related to the 2004 presidential campaign. The IRS, which oversees tax-exempt organizations, has been "investigating" All Saints since June 2005 because of an October 2004 sermon.

The sermon, by the Rev. Dr. George Regas, the rector emeritus of All Saints Church, did not advocate voting for or against a candidate. Tax-exempt groups are not allowed to do this.

Regas criticized the Bush administration's war in Iraq.

The IRS probe of All Saints Church has been widely condemned as harassment of a prominent liberal opponent of the Bush administration.

In a telephone interview today with JewsOnFirst, Regas expressed support for the bar on supporting candidates. "Our position at All Saints Church all these years is that we do not deal in a partisan way with candidates," he said. Regas was adamant though, that "the church has a right to be a critic of the state," particularly on essential issues like war.

He said that All Saints Church is not likely to hand over the documents to the IRS without being ordered to by a federal judge. "I think that the church will let the IRS take them to court and see what happens," he said.

The IRS recently concluded without action a similarly heavy-handed probe of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, begun at the request of Republican elected officials after an NAACP leader criticized the Bush administration.

It is also worth noting that mainstream clergy in Ohio have complained twice to the IRS about the overtly partisan political activities of "patriot pastors" backing the Republican candidate for governor, Ken Blackwell. (See our reports on the complaints.)

The IRS has not given any indication that it is investigating in Ohio. Will it announce an investigation of churches who help Attorney General Kline in these final weeks of his campaign?


  The IRS Investigation of All Saints Church

All-Saints Church, Pasadena, CA, Website September 17, 2006

On Friday, September 15, 2006, All Saints Church and Rector Ed Bacon received an administrative summons to appear before the IRS with documents. The church issued a press release outlining All Saints Church's reaction to the procedural and substantive issues raised by the summons. Click here to read the news release, a PDF document..

To read a July 24, 2006 letter from the IRS to All-Saint Church's attorney, Marcus Owens, click here.

To read All-Saints Church's attorney Marcus Owens' August 17, 2006 letter to the IRS, click here.

To read the September 15, 2006 summons of All Saints Church and its Rector by the IRS, click here.

  NAACP retains tax exempt status
  Investigation concludes association did not violate tax laws

Baltimore Times, September 8, 2006

BALTIMORE, MD— The Internal Revenue has informed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) that it has concluded its examination of NAACP activities and determined the Association did not violate conditions of its tax exempt status.

“We have determined that you continue to qualify as an organization described in IRC section 501(c)(3),” the IRS wrote in a letter to the NAACP dated Aug. 9. IRS official Marsha A. Ramirez said that a review of video footage of the Bond speech and other information indicated “that political intervention did not occur.” Continue.

Kline's August 8th memo lays bare for the world (including Democratic Party leaders who might care to protest) the details of how at least one Republican on the religious right uses churches for electoral operations. There is no reason to assume that Kline just created this campaign model.

Kline's closing instructions about telling cooperating churches how to protect their tax-exempt status, are nonchalantly dismissive. He tells his staff to prepare a "2-pager," only part of which will be about what the law allows.

Should prepare guidance sheet for those who are showing the church video. 2 pager that includes: goals for showing the video, IRS rules guidance regarding what they can and cannot do (this should not take long -- no use of church assets -- can show it at church as long as they do not deny opposition of showing their own video -- no need to invite the other, just cannot deny -- etc)

"Our efforts in the churches"
Kline is known beyond the realm of bright-red Kansas Republicanism for demanding abortion patients' records and ordering healthcare providers to report teenagers who have sex.

Kline writes that his staff should use the memo (which you can see here) as "a checklist to improve on our efforts" in the churches. He directs them to "maximize my presence in a community. Where possible, get additional churches involved."

Kline tells his staff how to form a campaign committee for him at each church that will educate and register voters, "encourage people to contribute and volunteer" and network with their own email lists. He instructs:

Recontact all churches and specifically get in touch with key contact there to form a church lay committee for the campaign.

In the memo Kline lays out how to move church-goers from services to nearby campaign receptions, scheduled "as close to service time and as close to church as geographically possible... If out before 12 noon -- make the starting time before that time."

He directs that the reception hosts should hand out invitations at services, and that the campaign should "attempt to get the pastor to mention" the event. He also wants the pastor's help with fundraising:

Get the pastor to invite five 'money people' whom he knows can help. As much as possible, get the pastor's commitment to attend and to get these five people there.

Later in the memo, Kline reiterated the importance of getting pastors committed to his campaign events, directing his staff:

On receptions-- please follow up contact with hosts to help them maximize attendance at receptions: One invite and one mention will not draw a crowd. Pastor and hosts must be willing to call their top 5 and get them there.

Kline also ordered: "Staff, must must must, get everyone's email who attends. Don't wait for them to fill something out. Go get their e-mail."

He discusses showing a "church video" at receptions.

The goal should be for folks to be willing to follow up by inviting others to their home to show video and generate support

Three cooperating churches named
In a section of the memo entitled "Turn out voters," Kline makes it clear he wants his campaign to organizing church committees to get their members to the polls for him. "Sign up folks to help with lit drops etc."

And he names three churches that "have already volunteered to do this:" Light of the World in Topeka, Wannamaker Woods Nazarene Church, Basehor-Linwood Church.

Later in the memo, Kline instructs the staff on "maximizing exposure at every church," advising them to "check and work with the pastor to see what is comfortable."

Still later he directs that "all churches should be contacted about our Kick-off rallies."

He also refers to getting "Dobson by phone," presumably a reference to Focus on the Family head James Dobson, for unspecified campaign help.

Kline's opponent disparages operation
Kline's memo surfaced when it and related documents were sent to Kansas statehouse reporters in envelopes from "Concerned Citizens, Everywhere, KS." It is addressed to Kline's campaign manager, Bill Roche, and a campaign volunteer, Sylvia Chapman. It was copied to Doug Henkle, identified in news reports as both a campaign aide and a member of Kline's attorney general staff.

During a candidates' debate last week, Kline defended the memo. His opponent, Paul Morrison, a Kansas City-area district attorney who recently switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat, said: "I have never -- and never will -- view a church as a political machine for me."

The Associated Press quoted Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, terming the Kline memo "beyond the pale."

Kline has been battling in court for access to abortion clinics' patient records. He says he wants the records to help prosecute rapists. Morrison has pledged to end the fight for patients' records.

Healthcare providers successfully sued to overturn Kline's order that they report teenagers who have had sexual relations. These professionals worried that the regulation would deter teens from seeking treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. >In April a federal judge issued a permanent injunction against enforcement of Kline's order. (Click here for more.)


 
Sebelius doesn't sign off on Kline
A.G. still will become Johnson County's district attorney

By John Hanna, The Associated Press, Topeka Capital-Journal, December 21, 2006

TOPEKA — Gov. Kathleen Sebelius refused Wednesday to endorse recently defeated Attorney General Phill Kline's selection as Johnson County district attorney, but Kline's appointment became official nevertheless. Continue.

Johnson County GOP taps A.G.
Kline to take over district attorney seat vacated by Morrison

By John Hanna, The Associated Press, Topeka Capital-Journal, December 12, 2006

LENEXA — Republican activists chose Attorney General Phill Kline as Johnson County's new district attorney Monday night to replace the Democrat who ousted him from statewide office last month. Continue.

Abortion issue undid Kline

Bill Blankenship, The Capital-Journal (Topeka, Kansas), November 8, 2006

The most bitter campaign of this election cycle -- called by some the nastiest in a generation -- ended Tuesday night when Democrat Paul Morrison easily defeated Republican Phill Kline's bid for a second term in office.

With 3,188 of 3,290 statewide precincts reporting, Morrison, the longtime Johnson County district attorney, was leading Kline by 58 percentage points to 42 percentage points.

Kline conceded the election at about 10 p.m. in the Sunflower Ballroom of the Kansas Expocentre, where two days earlier President Bush spoke in Landon Arena encouraging a capacity audience to vote for the state's slate of GOP candidates.

Kline clearly thought his defeat hinged on his dogged pursuit of records of two abortion clinics.

Kline said he sought those records to determine whether late-term abortions were done in compliance with state law and to see whether any underage girls who received abortions were the victims of child rape. Continue

Kline memo called year's worst abuse of religion in politics
'Money people' note caught attention of Interfaith Alliance

By John Hanna, The Associated Press, The Capital-Journal (Topeka, Kansas), November 10, 2006

A memo Attorney General Phill Kline wrote outlining a plan to fully tap his support among churchgoers was the worst abuse of religion in American politics during the 2006 election cycle, a national group said Wednesday.

Kline's directions to his campaign staff members included making sure friendly pastors brought "money people" to fundraisers and signing up church members to help with passing out campaign literature. It said one goal was to form a pro-Kline committee at each church.

The memo's designation came from the Interfaith Alliance, a Washington-based group that promotes the separation of church and state and government neutrality on religion.

Kline already faced criticism over his activities involving churches. Continue.

Morrison Slithers into Kansas AG's Office on Backs of Dead Babies
Kline courageously stood for the abused innocent in spite of attacks

Operation Rescue.org, November 8, 2006

Nov 08, 2006 Attorney General Phill Kline was soundly defeated by pro- abortion Democrat Paul Morrison in a bitterly contentious election that centered around abortion politics.

In what was expected to be a closer race, Morrison garnered 58% of the vote in a state where the pro- abortion media refused to accurately report Kline’s positions, and published vicious and often personal attacks on him daily.

At the center of the race was Kline’s investigation into abortion clinics for the concealment of child rape and illegal late-term abortions. A judge had granted Kline access to 90 abortion medical records that the court determined showed "probable cause" that crimes had been committed. Names of the patients were redacted by the court. Continue

2 abortion clinics want Fox's O'Reilly investigated

By The Associated Press, November 7, 2006

TOPEKA, Kan. — Two abortion clinics asked the state's highest court yesterday to investigate Attorney General Phill Kline and Fox television's Bill O'Reilly over O'Reilly's statements that he had information from Kansas abortion records.

A Kline spokeswoman called the clinics' move "a political ploy." Continue.

Kansas A.G. inquiry into abortion clinics to continue; court outburst ‘unproductive,’ pro-life lawyer says

By Tom Strode, Baptist Press, November 13, 2006

WASHINGTON (BP)--Kansas voters removed Attorney General Phill Kline from office in the Nov. 7 election, but that apparently will not halt his investigation into two abortion clinics.

Democrat challenger Paul Morrison, Johnson County district attorney, gained 58 percent of the vote to defeat Kline in a race marked by controversy and by special interest from both sides in the abortion debate. Continue.

"Church efforts" memorandum by Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline

Please click here to read a copy of Kline's memorandum instructing his re-election campaign staff to organize support from churches. Click here to read this PDF document.

Watchdog Group Accuses Churches of Political Action

By Stephanie Strom, The New York Times, October 26, 2006

A nonprofit group has filed a complaint asking the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the role that two churches may have played in the re-election campaign of Kansas’ attorney general. The complaint by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan legal watchdog organization, cited a memorandum from the attorney general, Phill Kline, a Republican, directing members of his campaign staff to recruit churches to distribute campaign literature and serve as the sites for events.

"This is the top law enforcement official in the state who is encouraging everyone to break the law," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the watchdog group. "He’s either abysmally unfamiliar with the law, or he’s deliberately violating it." Continue.

CREW Urges IRS Investigation into Kansas AG Kline's Reelection Campaign Activities

From the website of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, October 18, 2006

During the week of September 12, 2006 several Kansas-based news organizations published an internal campaign memorandum authored by Attorney General Kline that detailed his efforts to recruit churches to aid his reelection efforts. The memorandum includes several activities that may constitute illegal support of the Kline campaign by Kansas churches.

Kline identified Light of the World and Wanamaker Woods Nazarene, both in Topeka, and an unspecified Basehor-Linwood church as churches that had agreed to help disseminate his campaign literature. Redistributing partisan campaign literature is a violation of tax laws that forbid churches and other public charities from intervening in elections. Continue and find links to related documents on the "CREW" website.

Jews rip Kline for re-election 'church efforts'

By Rick Hellman, Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, September 29, 2006

The Chronicle quotes extensively from JewsOnFirst's report on Attorney General Phill Kline's memo specifying how his campaign would create political operations in Kansas churches. It also quotes Rabbi Scott White of Congregation Ohev Sholom criticizing the partisanship of what Kline says in his memo that churches should do for his reelection campaign. Please click here.

Mainstream Kansas clergy protest Attorney General Kline's memo seeking a campaign "committee in every church"

Petition on website of Mainstream Voices of Faith, September 2006

Mainstream Voices of Faith, a Kansas group that describes itself as "a religious coalition, rooted in love and compassion, which promotes a thoughtful and inclusive approach to issues of faith and public policy," has posted a sign-on letter protesting Attorney General Phill Kline's memo. The letter states, in part:

It is evident that in his quest to garner contributions and votes from conservative, evangelical, and fundamentalist congregations, Kline has asked churches to walk dangerously close to the line drawn by the Internal Revenue Service that prohibits nonprofit organizations from supporting political candidates. In fact, Kline has asked them to cross that line.

The group is seeking clergy signatures. Please click here.

Analysis: Kline alienates GOP moderates
No-holds-barred campaigning spurs complaints from all sides

By John Hanna, The Associated Press, Topeka Capital-Journal Online, October 30, 2006

This discussion of campaign ads by Kline and his challenger notes one criticizing Kline's hiring of an anti-abortion activist from the American Family Association's Center for Law and Policy. Kline hired Bryan Brown to lead the state's consumer protection agency. Click here.

Kline's employee defends his record

By Tim Carpenter, The Capital-Journal (Topeka), October 31, 2006

Deputy Attorney General Bryan Brown punched back Monday against a barrage of political advertising designed to undercut his personal reputation and the re-election bid of his boss.

Brown's record as an anti-abortion protester is featured in a television spot crafted to tarnish public perception of Brown and Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, as well as to justify an effort by Paul Morrison, the Democratic Party's nominee, to replace Kline. Continue.

Kansas Attorney General Alarms Abortion-Rights Groups

By John Hanna, The Washington Post, September 27, 2006

TOPEKA, Kan. -- GQ magazine declared he would do anything to stop abortion and called him the future of the anti-abortion movement. Planned Parenthood put him on a list of 15 Americans it saw as major threats to abortion rights.

Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline has emerged as one of the nation's foremost foes of abortion by tangling with abortion clinics and health care providers in this heartland state, where is now running for a second term. Continue.

I.R.S. Eyes Religious Groups as More Enter Election Fray

By Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times, September 18, 2006

With midterm elections less than two months away, Christian conservatives are enlisting churches in eight battleground states to register voters, gather crowds for rallies and distribute voters’ guides comparing the candidates’ stands on issues that conservatives consider "family values."

This election year, however, the religious conservatives are facing resistance from newly invigorated religious liberals and moderates who are creating their own voters’ guides and are organizing events designed to challenge the conservatives’ definition of "values."

Both religious flanks are looking nervously over their shoulders at the Internal Revenue Service, which this year announced a renewed effort to enforce laws that limit churches and charities from involvement in partisan political campaigns. Continue.

Kline outlines prayer of a chance
Internal memo shows how A.G. hopes to woo churchgoers

By John Hanna, The Associated Press, Topeka Capital-Journal, September 13, 2006

Hold each political reception close to the church and try to get the pastor to mention it during services. See that the minister invites at least a handful of "money people." Sign up church members to help with "lit drops."

Those were instructions Attorney General Phill Kline gave to his re-election campaign staff in an internal memo outlining an aggressive effort to mobilize support among conservative Christian churchgoers. Continue.

Kline stymied by leak of memo
Spokeswoman says access was gained illegally, feloniously

By John Hanna, Associated Press, Topeka Capital-Journal, September 14, 2006

Amid the controversy over an aggressive campaign to exploit his support from conservative Christians, Attorney General Phill Kline's staff is wondering how a private memo he wrote became public.

The memo outlined the Republican incumbent's directions to his re-election campaign for making the most of political receptions held near friendly churches after their services. Its instructions included getting pastors to mention the events during services and getting them to bring a handful of "money people" to events. Continue.

Leaked Memo Fuels Kansas AG Concerns

by The Associated Press, 365Gay.com, September 15, 2006

(Topeka, Kansas) GQ magazine declared he would do anything to stop abortion and called him the future of the anti-abortion movement. Planned Parenthood put him on a list of 15 Americans it saw as major threats to abortion rights.

Attorney General Phill Kline is frustrated that, as he seeks a second term, the national attention he has received for fighting abortion and championing conservative causes may overshadow his crime-fighting and other activities.

That has come to the forefront since a campaign memo he wrote in August, outlining an aggressive plan to court conservative Christians, was leaked anonymously to reporters. Kline's memo discussed political receptions held after services, directing his staff to get friendly pastors to invite "money people." Continue.

Kline defends memo during debate
A.G. candidates debate, point out their differences

By Roxana Hegeman, The Associated Press, Topeka Capital-Journal, September 15, 2006

WICHITA -- Attorney General Phill Kline used a debate with his Democratic challenger on Thursday night to defend a leaked memo outlining how he wanted his campaign to go about gaining support from conservative Christians.

The Republican said his political discussions in churches were healthy and good. In the memo, leaked this week to reporters, Kline directs his re-election campaign to make the most of political receptions held near friendly churches after their services. Continue.

Anti-Abortion Group Loses Tax Exemption

By Stephanie Strom, The New York Times, September 15, 2006

The Internal Revenue Service this week revoked the tax exemption of an anti-abortion group, Operation Rescue West, after receiving a complaint that it had violated prohibitions on electioneering by nonprofits in 2004....

Politicians across the political spectrum are courting churches this year as never before. The latest example is Attorney General Phill Kline of Kansas, a Republican who recently sent a memorandum to his campaign staff directing them to get him in front of as many congregations as possible at receptions and church services and to get ministers to introduce him to their wealthy congregants. Click here for the report.

  

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