Radicals for Tax Evasion: ISM/HAMAS supporter Scott Kennedy
By Lee Kaplan
FrontPageMagazine.com | May 9, 2007
Here is a fact that should unnerve American taxpayers: Some non-profit organizations in the United States are not only working to aid terrorists in Iraq and the Palestinian territories, but they are doing so in open defiance of American tax laws.
Take Scott Kennedy of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV) in Santa Cruz, California. Kennedy recently returned to the U.S. from Gaza, where he kept company with armed Hamas terrorists. In a Kodak moment all too typical of his activist career, Kennedy shook hands with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who has been personally involved in terrorist attacks in the past. Kennedy also regularly voices his support for Hamas and makes no secret of his support for like-minded extremist groups.
There is one thing, however, that Kennedy will not do: pay his taxes. In 2004, Kennedy, a former mayor of Santa Cruz and three-term council member, was the plaintiff in an unsuccessful lawsuit in a federal court. Kennedy had sought to use his status as a conscientious objector from war to escape paying his taxes. More recently, the IRS “seized” Kennedy’s wages at the RCNV on charges of tax evasion. The following communiqué was put out by the RCNV, which, as a non-profit, enjoys the support of taxpayers.:
The Internal Revenue Service has issued a ‘Notice of Levy on Wages, Salary, and other Income requiring the Resource Center for Nonviolence to turn over staff member Scott Kennedy's salary. Complying with the levy, the Resource Center has paid a total of $1,548.32, including unpaid federal income taxes, interest and penalties that were demanded by the IRS for tax year 2005...
In response, the RCNV has, at least rhetorically, sided with Kennedy. Peter Klotz-Chamberlin, a representative of the RCNV‘s steering committee, commented: "The Resource Center for Nonviolence supports the choice of our employee Scott Kennedy to refuse paying for war waged by the United States government. The Center supports acts of conscience seeking peace and justice by Scott Kennedy and all Americans. Our responsibility to the ongoing work of the Resource Center, however, leads us to reluctantly comply with the IRS levy on Scott's salary.”
Yet, despite voicing support for its member, the organization is clearly unwilling to follow his lead and challenge tax laws. Indeed, the center has already complied with the IRS order by issuing a check in the full amount -- approximately six weeks of Kennedy's salary at the center -- owed by Kennedy.
Kennedy’s rationale for refusing to pay taxes are little short of bizarre: He cites the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam war and the prosecution of radical icon Angela Davis, another decades-old case, as reasons that he will not follow the law like the rest of the country. “The U.S. taxpayers paid for the weapons used by Lt. Calley and others to commit murders in Vietnam,” Kennedy claims. He further insists that “as a California taxpayer, based on the Davis/Calley precedents, I could be prosecuted for the murders committed by Calley.” “In addition,” Kennedy says, “International Law does not just support people refusing to commit or support actions violating international law. International law requires it. So too does the law of California require me to refuse to pay taxes to commit crimes.”
Each excuse is more dubious than the next. For instance, Calley was prosecuted and sent to prison; the notion that he was acting on behalf of American taxpayers -- and that they could be prosecuted for his crimes -- is pure fiction. Angela Davis, meanwhile, was hardly the victim of abuse by American authorities; she was prosecuted for purchasing the gun that her lover, Black Panther member George Jackson, used to kill a judge during an attempted jailbreak at the Marion County Courthouse in 1972. Kennedy’s sudden support for international law is no more credible. After all, Kennedy is in favor of breaking U.S. law by lending logistical aid to overseas terrorist groups and meeting with members of Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department. Al Capone couldn’t get away tax evasion, but Kennedy, apparently, thinks he can.
To be sure, Kennedy doesn’t consider himself a lawbreaker. He writes: “It is REALLY important to distinguish my type of nonviolent civil disobedience against war from: 1) tax evaders -- i.e., those who avoid taxes clandestinely or without publicly accepting responsibility for their action; and 2) those who are conscientiously opposed to paying taxes per se -- usually the right-wing libertarian types. I'm not against taxes (including municipal taxes), just war taxes!” Endorsing civil disobedience, of course, is also a violation of RCNV’s non-profit status.
Given Kennedy's contemptuous disregard for the law, nothing would be more appropriate than for the IRS to strip Kennedy’s group of its tax-free status. By doing so, the federal government can justly send the message that it won’t stand for the abuse of the tax code.