Alleged Charleston gunman Dylann Roof wrote that he was never the same after discovering a website with “pages upon pages of these brutal black on white murders.”
The pages that left Roof in disbelief were the product of a white-nationalist group subsidized by American taxpayers.
The Council of Conservative Citizens Inc. is listed by the Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit organization that promotes social welfare, also known as a 501(c)(4). Such groups pay no federal taxes, a form of government subsidy.
The council is now under fire for allegedly inspiring racial hatred in Roof, a 21-year-old high school dropout. He is charged with nine counts of murder.
Tax-exempt social welfare groups are supposed to “primarily promote the common good and general welfare of the people of the community as a whole,” according to IRS documents.
The Council of Conservative Citizens explains on its website that its members believe “that the American people and government should remain European in their composition and character…. We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind.”
Groups that espouse hate can be stripped of their tax-exempt status, said Marcus Owens, who ran the IRS’s exempt organizations division in the 1990s. That happened to the neo-Nazi group National Alliance in 1982. The Council of Conservative Citizens has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “notorious, racist hate group.”
However, Owens says Republicans in Congress have made it virtually impossible for the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of political groups after the recent, so-called tea party scandal. Republicans criticized the IRS for what they said was inexcusable targeting of conservative 501(c)(4)s. And the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said the agency had employed “inappropriate criteria” in scrutinizing some groups’ tax-exemption applications.