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Friday, October 20, 2006

Mormon Church and Romney Politics

by Sharon

It's all over today's news. Yesterday the Boston Globe reported that the Mitt Romney camp consulted with Mormon leaders to "map out plans for a nationwide network of Mormon supporters to help Romney capture the presidency in 2008." The Boston Globe suggested the LDS Church is officially involved in supporting Governor Romney's political campaign.

According to the Globe,
...documents indicate that Jeffrey R. Holland, one of 12 apostles who help lead the church worldwide, has handled the initiative for the Mormons and that he hosted a Sept. 19 meeting about it in his church office in Salt Lake City...

Holland, a former BYU president, suggested using the alumni organization of the university's business school, the BYU Management Society, to build a network for Romney…

On Oct. 9, [Steve] Albrecht and Ned Hill, the [BYU Marriot School of Management] dean, sent an e-mail to 50 Management Society members and 100 members of the school's National Advisory Council asking them to join them in supporting Romney's potential bid for the presidency. Hill and Albrecht signed the message with their official BYU titles, sent the e-mail from a BYU e-mail address, and began the message "Dear Marriott School Friend."…

Both the church and BYU, as tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations, are prohibited by federal law from advocating on behalf of a particular candidate or political party.

LDS Church owned Deseret Morning News today published an article, "Church faults Mitt story," seeking to set the record straight. The LDS Church called the Globe article "inaccurate" and reaffirmed the Church's long-standing policy of political neutrality.

Today the Boston Globe reported that the alleged actions of the LDS Church and BYU in support of Mitt Romney may not be illegal after all.
Milton Cerny, a retired lawyer who formerly oversaw tax-exempt groups for the IRS, said the actions of BYU and the church did not appear to violate federal law, because Romney is not officially running for president.

Peggy Riley, a spokeswoman for the Internal Revenue Service in Boston, said she could not comment.

Time will tell, I suppose, but this whole thing seems like a tempest in a teapot to me.

An interesting post on Article VI Blog by LowellB takes a reasoned Mormon look at the Globe report. LowellB writes
To me, the Globe story, by Scott Helman and Michael Levenson, combines several elements:
  • The Globe's apparent desire to find an alarming story where there really isn't one.
  • Dumb but harmless mistakes by Romney supporters at BYU (now corrected).
  • Something that looks an awful lot like prejudice-baiting by the Globe, whether that was intended or not.

I may not agree with everything LowellB writes, but I like the counter-balance his comments provide. I encourage you to read it. What do you think?

1 Comments:

  • At October 20, 2006 2:38 PM, Anonymous Craig said…

    My skepticism of the media's treatment of Republicans conflicts with my skepticism of the LDS Church on this. It's quite clear that Mormons will comprise a large percentage of Romney's campaign machine, and that Mormons will overwhelmingly support him. I imagine that Church officials will tiptoe as close to the limits of tax-exempt political activity as they can get to support him.

    I think that BYU officials have done enough to get the ball rolling on an "unofficial" partnership with Romney. Sure, they've apologized for acting in their official capacity, and won't do it anymore, but the "damage" is done.

     

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