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A District 7 city council runoff candidate said Wednesday that she hoped prosecutors and the Internal Revenue Service were investigating a local pastor for supporting her opponent from the pulpit.
Tammy Fiebelkorn, a Democrat, meets Republican Lori Robertson to vacate Diane Gibson’s seat. During a service on November 16 at Legacy Church, Pastor Steve Smothermon assisted Robertson who was in the audience.
A video posted by the church featured Smothermon telling his parishioners, “We need people like you (Robertson) on the city council to make sure this crazy guy they call mayor doesn’t keep pushing his agenda.” also informed them that Robertson had set up an information booth in the church foyer for people who would like to speak to her after the service.
“I’ve always been told that non-profit 501 (c) (3) s shouldn’t have political discourse,” said Fiebelkorn. “I really hope the AG and the IRS will investigate and see if its actions have violated the church’s nonprofit status. More importantly, I really hope that District 7 voters will get out there and be heard. “
Robertson replied on Wednesday: “My opponent is trying to fabricate a scandal that does not exist” and has “repeatedly tried to portray me as a right-wing extremist”.
She went on to say that she did not know if any IRS rules had been violated.
“All I can say is that I appreciate the opportunity to share my faith and meet with voters and discuss my solutions to our city’s problems,” said Robertson.
Smothermon, who has publicly challenged the validity of the governor’s COVID-related restrictions on church attendance and masking requirements and has been fined by the state health department, said, “We have certainly done nothing wrong believing that we are behaving within the country have the limits of the law, given our First Amendment rights.
“The separation of church and state was originally intended to protect the church from state persecution. In fact, a large part of this country was founded by those who sought freedom of religion, ”said Smothermon.
As of Wednesday, the Attorney General’s office has not opened an investigation against Smothermon or Legacy Church.
“We have not received any complaints on this particular matter,” said Jerri Mares, a spokeswoman for the AG office.
David A. Tucker II, regional spokesman for the Internal Revenue Service, said that “the IRS does not comment or discuss any person or organization’s relationship” with the federal agency due to privacy regulations. This includes commenting on when a complaint has been made against an individual or organization, or when the IRS has opened an investigation.
The IRS website generally addresses the problem. According to their Code of Conduct for Churches and Religious Organizations with status 501 (c) (3), these entities are “absolutely prohibited from participating, directly or indirectly, in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) a candidate for” or themselves to participate in it electoral office in office. “
Failure to comply with this ban “may lead to the refusal or cancellation of the tax exemption and the collection of certain excise duties,” the website says.
Feibelkorn, who owns an environmental and business consultancy firm, received 24% of the vote in regular local elections, while Robertson, a real estate agency, received 32% of the vote. Since none of the candidates received at least 50% of the vote, a runoff election is required.
A runoff election will also take place in District 9, where Republican Renee Grout and Democrat Rob Grilley are vying for the vacant seat of Don Harris, who did not run for a fifth term.
The last day for the early runoff is December 4th; Election day is December 7th.