Lawmaker to return Buddhist donations

STEVE LAWRENCE
The Associated Press
SACRAMENTO – A California lawmaker plans to return more than $6,000 that two Buddhist temples and a related research group donated to his campaign in violation of their tax-exempt religious status, the lawmaker’s staff said Tuesday.
The donations to freshman Republican Assemblyman Curt Hagman were made over 18 months starting in June 2007 from the Buddhist Temple of Chino Hills, the Bu-Sha Center and the Buta Buddhism Research Center. All three claim nonprofit, tax-exempt status as churches.
The Internal Revenue Service sent reminders to political parties last April, during the presidential primaries, that direct and indirect campaign activities by churches and other tax-exempt charities were banned.
The donations are reminiscent of a fundraising event at a Buddhist temple in Hacienda Heights in 1996 that raised more than $100,000 for the Democratic National Committee. Then-Vice President Al Gore attended the event and was criticized for it during his 2000 presidential campaign.

Galen Holley