With the June primary less than a month away, it’s hard to miss the political campaign signs as you drive around the community.
They’re especially prevalent along Lake Earl Drive in Del Norte County District 4 where three challengers are trying to unseat incumbent Supervisor Gerry Hemmingsen. The Triplicate was notified Tuesday that at least four “Vote Roger Daley Supervisor District 4” signs were where they shouldn’t be, on property belonging to Fort Dick Bible Church. But as of Friday those signs were gone.
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501 (c)(3) organizations, including churches, are prohibited from participating in any political campaign. This includes making contributions to political campaign funds and making public statements endorsing or opposing a candidate for public office. Violating this prohibition may result in revocation of an organization’s tax exempt status, according to the Internal Revenue Service’s Tax Guide for Churches & Religious Organizations.
Daley, pastor at Fort Dick Bible Church and a Del Norte County Unified School District trustee, said Wednesday that he is aware church pastors are not allowed to endorse candidates or campaign for them from the pulpit. But, he said, he was unaware that political signs on church property was also prohibited.
Although he was out of the area on Wednesday, Daley said he would rectify the situation.
“I’m not a lawless person,” he told the Triplicate. “This is the worst part of politics in this regard that people take personal offense at other candidates.”
Del Norte County clerk Alissia Northrup said although displaying political on church property may be a violation of the U.S. tax code, it’s not something she would police. County code doesn’t include prohibitions against displaying political or campaign signs on parcels developed with churches, according to Randy Hooper, assistant director of the Del Norte County Community Development Department.
Northrup said if anyone had a complaint about the political signs at Fort Dick Bible Church, they would report it to the Fair Political Practices Commission.
Known as the Johnson Amendment, named for then-Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson, the prohibition of religious organizations from participating in or endorsing a political campaign has been part of the United States tax code since 1954, according to a Feb 3., 2017 article from NPR.
Reach Jessica Cejnar at firstname.lastname@example.org .