Opponent Says Jackson is ‘Secretly Campaigning' Through Pastors
Second Congressional Candidate Marcus Lewis says leaked audio of a Matteson pastor’s sermon is evidence that the current congressman is campaigning through religious figures, and that this particular church’s tax-exempt status should be in question.
This article was updated at 11:55 a.m. on Oct. 31, 2012 to include information about the 501(c)(3) tax exemption.
Controversy erupted on the Patch comment boards Tuesday when we released an audio recording of Matteson Rev. Andrew Singleton Jr. vocalizing his support for the re-election of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.
The recording now has independent opponent Marcus Lewis contending that the pastor’s speech may be in a violation of the law and that Jackson is using religious authorities as a sneaky campaign trick.
"He's campaigning across the pulpit," Lewis said. "His church can and should lose its tax-exempt status because of that."
In the recording, Singleton tells his congregation at Victory Apostolic Church he continues to support Jackson, despite his near-complete absence from the political arena since heath issues landed him in the Mayo Clinic for much of the past several months.
"Jesse is secretly campaigning using pastors," Lewis added. "He's doing it through them because they have a captive audience."
Lewis claims that in speaking about the congressman, the church is in violation of a tax exemption, which may be revoked if a church endorses or campaigns on the behalf of a specific candidate. Churches also lose tax-exempt status if they attack a candidate's opponent. Churches are, however, allowed to speak out about political, social or moral issues.
Republican opponent Brian Woodworth could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday night.