Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Center should cancel Frank Rich

I was dismayed to see that the Sun Valley Center for the Arts has booked Frank Rich as a speaker. According to the Center, he will speak on the upcoming presidential election two weeks before the election. 

In his Sept. 18 column, Frank Rich opined that "Mitt (Romney) reveals himself to be a callous man who doesn’t know how Americans live."

On Sept. 25, Frank Rich said: "Maybe old, rich white men won’t buy this election after all." Surely the Center realizes that there are many "old, rich white men" who generously support the Center and many other charitable organizations and events in our valley, to the benefit of everyone here. Some are even Romney supporters. Why would The Center want to alienate current and potential donors who hold a different political point of view?

In addition, the Center is a 501 (c) (3) organization. Under IRS regulation, 501(c)(3) nonprofits are governed by rules that carry severe penalties if violated. The basic IRS rule is that any political intervention is prohibited.

According to section 501 (c)(3), nonprofits get and keep their tax exemption only if they do not participate in or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of [or in opposition to] any candidate for public office. Violation can lead to revocation of the organization’s 501(c)(3) status, with the organization becoming liable for any resultant taxes.

You need only to read Frank Rich’s numerous, vitriolic articles to see that he is attacking Romney and advocating for Obama. By giving Frank Rich a forum, the Center is doing the same.

In sum, I would urge The Sun Valley Center for the Arts to reverse course immediately. There are many people who do not appreciate such political activities, including—but not limited to—a bunch of old, rich white men (and women).

Marina MacDonald


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