An easy Reform Commission cut

Dear Loudoun County Government Reform Commission,

I have a way for you to immediately save Loudoun County taxpayers one quarter of a million dollars per year.

That is the amount of revenue the county is not receiving due to the property tax exemption granted in late 2003 to the massive Loudoun compound of Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship Ministries/Colson Center.

Our tax dollars at work.

Rescind it. PFM doesn’t qualify for a tax exemption. Tax exempt entities in Loudoun are not permitted to engage in partisan political advocacy and propaganda, and that is precisely what Chuck Colson uses his organization to do. Case in point – as discussed here, Chuck Colson has fabricated and repeatedly disseminated the following two big, honking falsehoods: that President Obama has redefined “freedom of religion” to be a more narrow concept of “freedom of worship,” and that the Affordable Care Act mandate to employers to provide contraceptive coverage as part of comprehensive health insurance plans is something new, and is “the most important issue — I really think the most important I’ve faced in my ministry, and the greatest threat to America, the greatest threat to us as Christians.” But in fact:

Colson’s ministry is based in Virginia. Once Obama’s nationwide mandate goes into effect, religious employers in Virginia will for the first time have a conscience clause allowing them to opt out of directly providing this coverage. They have to offer this coverage now — with no conscience clause exempting religious employers.

Chuck Colson, an employer in the state of Virginia, has been operating under this mandate since 1996, when Republican Gov. George Allen signed the state’s mandate into law.

That’s right – Chuck Colson provided contraceptive coverage to his Virginia employees from 1996 through 2011 without so much as a whimper of protest that his freedom of religion was being violated. Only now, when he perceives some partisan utility to the issue, is he making this (false) claim.

Watergate felon Chuck Colson has parlayed his fake “prison conversion” story into a multi-million dollar propaganda mill that has cost taxpayers millions, not only in lost revenue to Loudoun County, but in lawsuits elsewhere. PFM has been found to engage in practices that, ironically enough, violate the freedom of religion of prisoners. See here and here for extensive discussion of the failures and constitutional violations of PFM.

This should be a very easy cut to make. We await the Reform Commission’s recommendation.

3 thoughts on “An easy Reform Commission cut

  1. Epluribusunum Post author

    Although this is not actually within the purview of the RC (I stand corrected), it is within the purview of a fiscally conservative board as they review the budget. Instead of trying to eliminate many tiny expenditures on needed human services whose absence will result in much higher costs in public safety and medical emergencies, it would be more effective to go after larger expenditures that do not reflect the proper role of government. Tax giveaways to partisan organizations, however ideologically aligned they might be with some board members, are never an appropriate role of government.

    This exemption was made in error by the 1999 board at the very end of their term. It was presented along with other exemptions in a single agenda item. The board probably didn’t have adequate information at the time, and relied only on what was presented by PFM.

  2. mosborn

    This does seem like a no-brainer. Then again, we’re talking about a commission that likely loves the concept of low taxes…consequence be damned.

  3. Pariahdog

    The 2013 budget is being reviewed by the BoS. This is a BoS action, right now. The RC is involved in structural and process issues. I’m going to forward this post to the BoS.

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