The Johnson Amendment: What’s the Big Deal?

  Until President Donald Trump pledged to “totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment, most Americans (except a few well-informed church leaders and tax lawyers) had no idea what he was talking about. After all, the law has apparently never been enforced or even discussed to any significant degree. So, what exactly is the Johnson Amendment? Well, it was a stealthy addition to a large piece of tax legislation enacted by Congress on July 2, 1954. The amendment itself had a very specific purpose. It prohibited nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations created and operating pursuant to section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue tax code from endorsing or opposing political candidates. Generally speaking, section 501(c)(3) organizations are nonprofit groups more commonly known as charities. Most charities are legitimate and do good work for the people and communities they serve. As a result, the federal government gives them some tax benefits. First and foremost, functioning as a section 501(c)(3) nonprofit makes it much easier to raise money. Donations are tax deductible for the donor and not taxable to the donee. As a result, every taxpayer effectively contributes the taxes lost from the deduction by the donor from their income for tax purposes. Senator Lyndon Johnson (who became President Johnson) insisted that the amendment helped keep charities true to their altruistic principles and out of the dirty business of politics. In reality, Senator Johnson, up for reelection, had become concerned about a tax-exempt, nonprofit group calling itself the Facts Forum which “educated” voters through “public service programs” about a litany of issues and politicians. Senator Johnson, tipped off that he was on their “hit list” because...

Tax Man Knocking on Georgia’s Door Re Internet Sales

  If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street, If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat. If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat, If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet… State legislatures around the country, even Republican controlled ones like Georgia, are resurrecting the lyrics of “Taxman,” the 1966 Beatles hit, as they look for new ways to pick the taxpayer’s pocket. The getaway car for this latest heist? A tax on internet sales. Thus, an addition to George Harrison’s lyrics: “If you buy on line, I’ll tax that treat.” The first attempt to tax online sales, made by North Dakota, failed when the Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that the state could not collect a sales tax on orders or goods sold by Quill Corporation to North Dakotans because Quill did not have a bricks and mortar presence in the state or any other kind of “nexus”. And doing so violated the Constitution since only Congress could regulate interstate commerce. The Court allowed, however, that Congress could legislate permission to the states to collect such a tax. The brave men and women of Congress, being elected every two years, have demurred doing that for 25 years. So that leaves the states to devise a constitutional-proof scheme on their own. Take Georgia, for example. This is a state firmly in GOP hands: both legislative houses and all constitutional officers from governor to state school superintendent are Republicans. It is a conservative state. A bill to collect sales tax from online retailers, however, has been introduced and may likely pass. It is estimated...

Campus Liberals Have Lost Control of the Frankenstein They Created

On today’s college campus, there are two types of speech; that which is deemed acceptable by liberal administrators, faculty, and students — and everything else. It is this rigid standard of so-called “free speech” that conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos encountered last week when attempting to deliver a speech at U.C. Berkeley. Instead of being greeted by non-violent protesting and intellectual “counter-speech” — both constitutionally protected and acceptable means by which to address content others may find objectionable — Yiannopoulos had to be rushed to safety as violent thugs began destroying campus property in hopes of canceling his speech, in full view of campus police who refused to intervene in the chaos. U.C. Berkeley once was a model of free speech and expression; now it serves as a disgraceful reminder of how low the First Amendment has fallen in Higher Education. And, liberal professors and administrators, like those at U.C. Berkeley, have only themselves to blame. For decades, higher education has been the refuge of aging hippies and radical liberals lured by the prospect of shaping young minds, hopefully after their own; and, thanks to tenure, free from the risk of being fired for overstepping their bounds. Under the guise of academic freedom — a once-sacred centerpiece for classical education — these prima donnas were given a long leash, and allowed to inject a blatant liberal bias into their curriculum. Many of these Leftist professors then moved into administrative roles, where they went to work just as they did in the classroom to shape school policies – restrictive speech codes, sexual harassment policies with no due process, so-called “free speech...

The 2018 Georgia Governor’s Race

  When one election cycle ends, another begins. This has been true since election cycles began and it is true again now in 2017 leading to the November 2018 elections. At the federal level, 2018 will be the first opportunity for voters to weigh in on the job performance of now President Donald J. Trump. All 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 33 Senators will be on the ballot. 1994’s huge swing when former Speaker Newt Gingrich led the first political revolution has been followed by several more that shifted control of the House. In the Senate, the 2018 numbers favor Republicans because many more Democrats are up for re-election. Yet in the past, voter discontent with the current administration has protected, and in some cases even rewarded, the party in control. It is far too early to tell whether 2018 will be one of those years. After all, President Trump has just taken office and his full cabinet is not even in place yet. Only time and performance will determine whether the 2016 change election will trigger another change election in 2018. At the state level, what a difference just a few months can make! Heading into the 2016 cycle, candidates were lined up for the opportunity to run for the gubernatorial vacancy created by Georgia’s term limit on Gov. Nathan Deal. In many ways, it was similar to what had happened when term-limited Gov. Sonny Perdue left office eight years earlier. For the Republicans, the list was as long as the list of GOP presidential candidates vying for the Republican nomination to seek the...

A Q&A with Sen. Bruce Thompson on cybersecurity

  With the added attention given to the Presidential election and the possibility of foreign interference in that process, it seemed appropriate to have a discussion with Data Security and Privacy Study Committee Chairman, Senator Bruce Thompson. Thompson was tasked with assessing the vulnerability of certain systems and formulating plans to counter possible threats and data breaches. Q: Senator, I understand you chaired the Data Security and Privacy Study Committee this past summer and seem to be passionate about the work that was done. In your opinion, why is it necessary to focus so much attention on data privacy and cyber security? A: As you know, I have a background in Software and Data Privacy, and I am deeply concerned that the more society becomes technologically advanced and interconnected, the more vulnerable we also become. Hardly a day passes without another breach or cyber hack on an individual or entity, and the talent to combat this crisis is critically low. As chairman of this committee, I worked with an incredibly talented team that invested significant time formulating an effective plan to meet the demands of our state. As a result of our travels and consultation with the likes of Microsoft (Cybercrime Lab), Michigan (Merit Cyber Range), and Augusta University, we prioritized 5 recommendations beginning with required complete awareness training for all executive branch state employees and contractors. As a part of this training, the state would either use an existing cyber range or build one to provide the practical training necessary. With a desire to streamline and formalize communication and efficiencies in regards to data within the state government,...

President is Protecting the U.S. with Thoughtful Immigration ‘Pause’

  Prudence. It’s a word we don’t heard too much of lately especially in the hustle and bustle of international travel across the globe where immediate results are expected and patience is lost. President Donald Trump is showing remarkable prudence in his executive order signed earlier this week in requiring a temporary pause in the immigration of persons to the United States from seven Middle Eastern countries. If it means some refugees may not clear customs in the United States for a short period of time until a more permanent, significant vetting policy is in place, then Trump is showing the rest of the world what matters most: protecting American citizens. Trump signed a 90-day, temporary ban on persons entering the United States from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. To enter the United States from those nations will now require further vetting which is exactly what is needed to keep the homeland safe. Those stopped at JFK Airport in New York and elsewhere were vetted and eventually released, showing the system worked. But each of these countries addressed in Trump’s executive order are infiltrated by radical Islamic extremism – either by jihadist-leaning governments or violent jihadist terrorists. Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen have been breeding grounds for terrorists who have spread carnage throughout Europe and the Middle East in the past two years – killing hundreds of innocent men, women and children. For example: * A 27-year-old Syrian blew himself up in the Bavarian town of Ansbach last summer, killing 15 people outside a concert. ISIS identified the perpetrator as a...

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