Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., asked the IRS Monday to investigate whether the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has illegally received or solicited funds from foreign governments.
The letter, sent to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, was written in response to news that CAIR has lost its IRS tax exempt status for failing to properly file annual tax reports, known as form 990s, for three years in a row.
The fact that CAIR's donations are no longer tax deductible was exposed last week by the Investigative Project on Terrorism. CAIR's national entities, CAIR-National and the CAIR Foundation, were both included on a list of hundreds of thousands of organizations that had lost their status for failing to file the paperwork.
But Rep. Wolf indicated that CAIR differs from those thousands of other organizations because it was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator (UCC) in the case of a U.S. Muslim charity found guilty of funneling millions of dollars to Hamas. When CAIR tried to have its named removed from the UCC list, a U.S. district court judge declined to strike CAIR's name.
"Given CAIR's status…this failure to comply with federal disclosure laws is all the more troubling," Rep. Wolf wrote.
Rep. Wolf expressed concern over CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad's letter to Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, which solicited money and praised Gaddafi. Wolf also asked the IRS if it is aware that Awad tried to solicit funds from Sudanese President Omar Hassan Bashir, who has been indicted internationally as a war criminal.
CAIR told Fox News that it hopes to appeal to the IRS and gain retroactive tax-exempt status. That would mean that any donations accepted during the interim would be tax deductible upon CAIR's reinstatement.
"We'll be doing whatever's necessary…to rectify the situation," CAIR Spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said. CAIR has 15 months to turn in papers explaining why the organization failed to file, and to submit the missing or corrected annual forms and a new application for tax exempt status.
Hooper said that CAIR filed properly in the past few years, but that the problems come from "questions" over tax filings dating back to 2006 or 2007.
State Department records obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism show CAIR sent delegations in 2006 to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates seeking millions of dollars in support.
CAIR-National's most recent available tax records are from 2005. A required attachment of donations over $5,000 to that year's filing showed a $600,000 donation from Saudi businessman Adnan Bogary. According to the list, it was the single largest donation to CAIR for that tax year.
Click here to read Rep. Wolf's full letter to the IRS.