Internal Revenue Service agents targeted the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and its offshoot Samaritan's Purse for extra scrutiny, says Franklin Graham, son of the organization's founder.
reports that Graham sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Tuesday. In it, Graham said he believes the audits were part of the IRS's admitted practice of targeting conservative and pro-Israel groups that came to light on Friday.
Graham says the organization, headquartered in North Carolina, ran statewide ads supporting a traditional marriage amendment in the state.
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In the fall, the ministry ran newspaper ads asking voters to "cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel." The ad concluded, "Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me (Billy Graham) that America will remain one nation under God."
Franklin Graham's letter says the ads were bought with funds donated specifically for that purpose.
After seeing news reports of IRS agents seeking additional information from groups with "tea party" and "conservative" in their names — or groups that support Israel or seek "to make America a better place to live" — Graham said he believes the audits of his organizations were not a coincidence or justifiable.
Graham said that after the election he received word that both organizations would be allowed to keep their tax-exempt status. But in the meantime the agents wasted taxpayers' money on the audits, and the ministry wasted donated funds during the time and effort staff spent assisting the agents.
Graham said he believes someone in the administration was trying to intimidate the ministry. He called the actions "morally wrong and unethical," adding that "some would call it "un-American.'"
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