FNC’s Kelly, Napolitano Hit Sharpton for Creating ‘Legal Problems’ Over Speech

On Monday’s The Kelly File, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly and Judge Andrew Napolitano blasted MSNBC’s Al Sharpton for using a speech for the tax-exempt NAACP to “simultaneously attack police, criticize Republicans, advocate for the Democrats, organize street protests, and promote his MSNBC broadcast all in one.”  

Napolitano argued that Sharpton's appearance has “created some ethical problems and even some legal problems... The government gives it the ability to exempt its donors from paying taxes on the donations they make to it.” 

The Fox News senior judicial analyst explained that because Sharpton spoke at a church, which is presumably a tax exempt organization as well, he has created some major problems for both groups:

The question is how far can he go to violate the IRS regulations? Because the NAACP and the church voluntarily waived their First Amendment privileges to advocate for legislation or for and against candidates in return for that tax-exempt status. That’s where he gets -- not him but they would get in trouble. 

Kelly went on to detail that groups like the NAACP cannot maintain their tax-exempt status if they “directly or indirectly participate in the opposition of any candidate for office” before she played a clip of Sharpton specifically going after potential Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Scott Walker: 

Napolitano went one step further and insisted Sharpton “really made a mistake by mentioning names” but expects the Obama IRS to “leave the NAACP alone” unlike Tea Party groups which Megyn Kelly explained were not treated fairly under this administration: 

This is the same IRS who investigated all of these groups, you know, these Tea Party-linked groups, these conservative groups, these other groups, because it smelled a rat. It said we think you’re getting too political just based on your name, based on the fact that you stand for freedom. And this guy can get up there and the NAACP can sponsor it and the odds of there being any investigation into that are zippo.

The Judge proceeded to blast the Obama IRS and acknowledged that they are not “going to investigate the NAACP or that church in Cleveland. So he will make the most of that situation to draw attention to himself and his legitimately held beliefs in an effort to gin up those beliefs in the face of the Republican National Convention, which is what he’s talking about.” 

As NewsBusters’ Tim Graham reported, Sharpton pledged that he’ll be “protesting the Republican convention in the streets in that Ohio city next July.” Unfortunately, despite Sharpton’s political activism it doesn’t appear that he will face any repercussions for his continued “ethical problems and even some legal problems.” 

See relevant transcript below. 

Fox News’ The Kelly File 

June 1, 2015

AL SHARPTON: As long as the lights are out-- roaches will do whatever they want to do in your town. But the minute you cut the light on, roaches will fly. Roaches will run. They ask you why Al Sharpton come to Cleveland? Tell them I’m a roachologist.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MEGYN KELLY: Well, that was Reverend Al Sharpton speaking Friday at a church in Cleveland, the site of the 2016 Republican National Convention. The cable news host using a house of worship to simultaneously attack police, criticize Republicans, advocate for the Democrats, organize street protests, and promote his MSNBC broadcast all in one. All at the request of a tax-exempt group, the NAACP. I spoke about this with FOX News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano moments ago. So, the NAACP invites him. He speaks in a church.

ANDREW NAPOLITANO: Right.

KELLY: He does basically everything you can do to undermine the Republicans who will be going there including announcing his little rally he’s going to have against them. And I can’t -- like how many ethical problems has he created?

NAPOLITANO: Well, he’s created some ethical problems and even some legal problems. I mean, the NAACP is tax-exempt. The government gives it the ability to exempt its donors from paying taxes on the donations they make to it. The same is presumably the case, I don’t know this to be so, but the same is presumably the case with the church in Cleveland where he was standing, in the clip you just ran, and from the pulpit in which he was speaking. So the question is how far can he go to violate the IRS regulations? Because the NAACP and the church voluntarily waived their First Amendment privileges to advocate for legislation or for and against candidates in return for that tax-exempt status. That’s where he gets -- not him but they would get in trouble.

KELLY: Exactly. So the rules say you cannot, to you maintain your tax-exempt status if you’re the NAACP you cannot directly or indirectly participate in the opposition of any candidate for office. Now, you tell me whether he sounds like he is opposing a candidate for office. Here’s another sound bite.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I’m talking about Jeb Bush and Scott Walker and the rest of them running that’s going to come up in here and think they’re going to have four or five days of convention. We’re going to have another convention outside.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NAPOLITANO: Now, that’s where he -- that’s where he’s wearing his MSNBC hat and not his I’m standing at a tax-exempt pulpit speaking to an organization that sent its folks here using tax-exempt funds hat. Because he really made a mistake by mentioning names. I think the IRS would leave him alone, would leave the NAACP alone -- again, I don’t mean to say him. He can say what he wants.

KELLY: Right.

NAPOLITANO: Leave the NAACP alone and the church alone if he sort of pushed in their direction, we want a government that’s more responsible --

KELLY: Which the NAACP has been doing for years now. They were investigated by the Bush administration back in 2004 for similar behavior.

NAPOLITANO: And exonerated.

KELLY: Not exonerated but they were not prosecuted. They didn’t lose I should say, not prosecuted,  they didn’t lose their status.

NAPOLITANO: When he mentions names, he should have consulted lawyers first because that’s what would cause the IRS, if we had a neutral IRS interested in enforcing the law neutrally and fairly--

KELLY: That’s where I wanted to go. That’s where I wanted to go. This is the same IRS who investigated all of these groups, you know, these Tea Party-linked groups, these conservative groups, these other groups, because it smelled a rat. It said we think you’re getting too political just based on your name, based on the fact that you stand for freedom. And this guy can get up there and the NAACP can sponsor it and the odds of there being any investigation into that are zippo.

NAPOLITANO: Correct. And he knows that. He understands that. The Obama IRS is not going to investigate the NAACP or that church in Cleveland. So he will make the most of that situation to draw attention to himself and his legitimately held beliefs in an effort to gin up those beliefs in the face of the Republican National Convention, which is what he’s talking about.

 

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