Network fined for intervening in 1988 presidential campaign
VIRGINIA–In mid-March, the Christian Broadcasting Network agreed to punitive sanctions and to make a “significant payment” to the IRS for contributing to Pat Robertson’s campaign for the 1988 Republican presidential nomination in violation of rules prohibiting tax-exempt organizations from supporting politicians.
In a statement released by CBN, the network announced it has agreed to retroactively relinquish its tax-exempt status for the years 1986 and 1987. CBN has also agreed not to engage in future campaign activities prohibited under the Internal Revenue Code, to make necessary “operational modifications to ensure ongoing compliance with tax laws” and to guarantee that the “highest fiduciary standards are met in CBN’s business and related dealings.”
According to a New York Times report, CBN contributed at least $250,000 a month during 1985 and 1986 to its tax-exempt affiliate, Freedom Council, to galvanize the support of Christian voters for Robertson’s unsuccessful bid for president in 1988. Robertson owns the network and serves as its active chairman.
CBN’s agreement with the IRS provides that donors who gave money to the network in 1986 and 1987 can still deduct the donations from their taxes.
In the CBN news release, Robertson said he is “very pleased to conclude this audit with an agreement that permits CBN to get on with its worldwide Christian ministry while satisfying the legitimate concerns of the IRS to ensure compliance with tax laws.”