(FreedomBeacon.com)- Some individuals questioned if political flags may be flown on a ship operated by a nonprofit after seeing banners for Governor Ron DeSantis this past weekend on the USS Orleck.
The IRS forbids 501(c)(3) non-profits from directly supporting or opposing a candidate in any political race.
The IRS claims it is unable to comment on individual organizations or reveal whether any complaints have been made on the DeSantis flags flying this weekend over the US Orleck.
However, a lawyer with a neutral group says that non-profits can organize political events as long as they provide all sides equal access.
As boats paraded down the St. Johns River in celebration of the governor, Ron DeSantis flags were strung across the railings of the USS Orleck.
GOP leaders were observing from the decommissioned Navy ship. The ship had been chartered for the occasion by the Duva County Republican party.
This IRS statute states that the participation in or interference with any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elected public office by all 501(c)(3) organizations is “completely prohibited,” according to the law. It states that infractions could lead to an organization’s tax-exempt status being denied or revoked.
The Duval GOP chair was asked if there was a dispute about the statute.
Dean Black said no. The Republican Party is renting the space, and they are authorized to decorate it how they choose.
However, some people, including Daniel Henry, the chair of the Duval County Democratic Party, feel the appearance is alarming and that they shouldn’t be endorsing any political messages, Republican or Democrat.
Stephen Spaulding, a senior attorney at the pro-democracy charity Common Cause, claims non-profits are permitted to rent out their spaces for political gatherings.
It will be acceptable, according to Spaulding, “as long as they’re being treated like any other member of the public who might want to hire out that facility.”
The Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association’s president, Daniel Bean, said anyone could book the ship for events, and the price is the same regardless of who is hosting the event.
President of the Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association Daniel Bean stated that they weren’t backing Governor DeSantis.
Another element, according to him, is money. They need the proceeds from activities like the Flotilla Saturday to sustain their purpose, so they’ll hold activities for anyone who would pay, regardless of political affiliation.
Bean claimed that the Duval County GOP spent $3,000 to rent the ship for the flotilla viewing on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and for an hour and fifteen-minute fireworks display that evening at $10 per person. After 2 p.m., he claimed, the DeSantis flags were taken down.