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Chairman Thad Cochran and Ranking Member Patrick Peahy ID: LFG-2018-0006

Senate Committee on Appropriations

Washington, D.C 20510

Sent via: Mail

Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen and Ranking Member Nita Lowey

House Committee on Appropriations

Washington, D.C 20515

Sent via: Mail

February 9th, 2018

Re: Section 116 of the House 2018 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill

Chairman Tad Cochran, Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, Ranking Member Patrick Peahy, and Ranking
Member Nita Lowey,

I am sending you this letter in regard and pertaining to Section 116 of the House 2018 Financial
Services and General Government Appropriations Bill. There are concerns with members of the public
and with organizations that identify as public trusts, that their may be an attempt by some members of
Congress to weaken or to repeal the Johnson Amendment1 in the FY2018 funding mechanism. As you
may already know, the "Johnson Amendment" protects the integrity and independence of tax-exempt
organizations and public trust. Those include places of worship and further this federal law ensures that
tax exempt organizations do not endorse or oppose political candidates. As a citizen of the United
States, I support this existing federal law because I do not want charities or places of worship to be torn
apart by partisan campaign politics or by them becoming unregulated super political action committees.

I want it to be clear to all of you that myself, members of the public and organizations that
identify as public trusts, do not want the Johnson Amendment to be weakened or to be repealed in any
way, shape or form. I hope that you understand that repealing or weakening the Johnson Amendment
would permit political parties to use their candidates to put pressure on tax-exempt entities for
endorsements and political campaigning. I believe that repealing or weakening the Johnson Amendment
would alter the character of tax-exempt organizations. This in my opinion, would certainly divide
congregations and communities, eroding public trust, and turning them into conduits for the flow of
secret finances. For instance, typically all tax-exempt entities, such as 501(c)(3) organizations, typically
have to file financial information with the Internal Revenue Service. Places of worship are exempt from
this requirement. Repealing or weakening the Johnson Amendment would allow registered tax-exempt
entities that are places of worship become unregulated super political action committees. This cannot
be allowed to happen in the United States.

1
The Johnson Amendment is a provision in the tax code of the United States that has prohibited all 501(c)(3)
nonprofit organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates since the year of 1954.

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It is to my knowledge and understanding that the Johnson Amendment has been in place for the
last six decades. Places of worship and nonprofit organizations have maintained free speech rights for
the last six decades as well. Those entities are already allowed to speak out on any political and social
issue that they see as important. Those entities however are not allowed to endorse or to oppose
candidates and maintain their special tax-exempt status. The current Johnson Amendment does serve as
a valuable safeguard in which protects nonprofit organizations, the political process of the United States
and the public trust from things that we do not need in the United States.

It appears as if at least 106 religious and denominational organizations, more than 5,600
charitable nonprofit organizations, more than 4,300 faith leaders, and state charities officials have
written to Congress as a request for you all of protect the Johnson Amendment from being weakened or
repealed. So, in conclusion, I am respectfully urging all of you to be in opposition to adding Section 116
or any other language that would repeal of that would weaken the Johnson Amendment in which
prevents houses of worship and other charitable nonprofit entities from engaging in political
campaigning or political endorsements to the FY2018 funding mechanism.

Respectfully,

Isaiah X. Smith2

2
www.isaiahxsmith.com

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