Trump vows to ‘destroy’ federal law banning political action by nonprofits

President Donald Trump listens as television producer Mark Burnett introduces him at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. During his remarks at the event, the president told religious leaders that he plans to eliminate a tax law that bars nonprofit groups, like churches, from engaging in political activity. Pool Photo by Win McNamee/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 2 (UPI) — Due to federal law, President Donald Trump could not enjoy any support from U.S. tax-exempt nonprofit organizations during his campaign last year — but the American leader said Thursday that he wants to change that for his next go-round in 2020.

A U.S. tax code provision implemented in 1954, called the Johnson Amendment, prohibits most nonprofits from participating in any political activity, whether it’s to support or oppose a particular candidate.

At the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, the president pledged to kill the amendment — saying it’s unconstitutional to bar nonprofit groups’ freedoms of speech.

“I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution,” Trump told religious leaders at the event.

“Freedom of religion is a sacred right, but it is under serious threat.”

The amendment made it unlawful for U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, the most abundant type in the United States, to endorse political candidates. It was authored by and subsequently named for then-Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson.

Violations can result in a revocation of a group’s tax-exempt status and excise tax liability.

Republicans have tried for years to repeal the Johnson Amendment, arguing that it hinders freedom of speech.

A repeal of the provision requires congressional approval.

U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations include organizations like churches, charities and universities.


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