A well-known legal firm is alleging that Hawaii's attorney general is attempting to intimidate churches and charities during the election season.
Alliance Defending Freedom is alarmed after Russell Suzuki's office released a press release that offered "guidance" for churches over permissible political activities.
ADF attorney Erik Stanley says the "guidance" amounted to a "one-sided, misleading" description of federal tax laws that focused more of what churches are not allowed to do.
"And so, really, what this boiled down to," Stanley says, "was this guidance was nothing more than an intimidation tactic to silence churches during an election season."
Suzuki is not the first liberal public official to offer their own version of legal allowances, Stanley tells OneNewsNow, because the goal is to use "bullying tactics" to intimidate churches from being involved in the political process.
"Predictably," says the ADF attorney, "the guidance that is given from state officials or from the Americans United for Separation of Church and State is very one-sided (as) it attempts to tell churches that they should be afraid of losing their tax-exempt status if they say anything or do anything during an election season."
ADF has sent a letter to the attorney general that states ADF will defend, pro bono, any church leaders threatened by the state.
"The attorney general for the state of Hawaii has no ability or authority to enforce federal tax law," says Stanley. "The IRS is the only one that can enforce federal tax law, and so for him to speak and to offer an opinion on a law that is outside of his enforcement authority, I think it really underscores the fact that this was a bullying tactic to keep churches quiet during this election cycle."
The Office of the Attorney General did not respond to OneNewsNow's request for comment.