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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Too bad, so sad, for the Minnesota Family Council

Campaign flier could hurt 2 nonprofits' status
The groups sent a mailing to Brainerd-area voters touting a "clear choice" between a gay senator and his challenger in the primary election two weeks ago.
Conrad Defiebre, Star Tribune

Two affiliated Minnesota groups that oppose same-sex marriage could face the loss of their nonprofit tax status and postage privileges for sending voters a politically-tinged mailing during a hotly contested legislative primary election, but the groups say their actions were legal.
Washington, D.C.-based Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed complaints Thursday with federal authorities over a "Special Primary Edition" of the Pro-Family News, published by the Minnesota Family Council and the Minnesota Family Institute.

The mailing, sent to voters in the Brainerd area, reported the support of openly gay state Sen. Paul Koering, R-Fort Ripley, for same-sex civil unions and his election opponent's opposition. It added: "GOP primary voters have a clear choice between a candidate who supports gay civil unions and one who is committed to protecting marriage."

Koering took 55 percent of the vote Sept. 12 to gain the Republican nomination over Brainerd City Council Member Kevin Goedker.

The complaints contend that the mailing violated nonprofit restrictions against electioneering, because it identified the candidates, implied a preference for Goedker, was delivered close to election day and highlighted an important issue in the primary contest.

"The real meaning of that mailing was 'vote for the other guy,' " Koering said Thursday.

The complaints went to the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Postal Service. Melanie Sloan, executive director of the Washington organization, called for the IRS to revoke the Family Institute's tax-exempt status "before it engages in additional campaign activity."

Tom Prichard, president of both family groups, replied that the mailing was cleared by an attorney as perfectly legal.

"We didn't engage in express advocacy," he said. "It's educating the voters. This is just another national organization attempting to intimidate us from engaging in free speech."

Lloydletta adds: We published an exclusive of scans of the flyer at Lloydletta's Nooz last week. Keep it here to be kept in the loop on breaking news before the mainstream media picks up on it.