McFadden to return contributions



A second state lawmaker who received political contributions from Maryland churches has agreed to return the money, saying he fears jeopardizing the religious institutions' tax-exempt classifications.

Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, a Baltimore Democrat and the Senate's majority leader, said yesterday that he will give back more than $2,200 he collected in a dozen campaign contributions from churches since 2000.

"I don't want to do anything that would adversely affect the churches," said McFadden, who said campaign staff members are calculating how much to return. "It's just the right thing to do."

An analysis by The Sun last month found that more than 100 churches throughout Maryland have made campaign contributions since 2000, an act prohibited by the Internal Revenue Service for nonprofit organizations.

McFadden's decision to return the campaign donations comes after Del. Adrienne A. Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat and speaker pro tem of the House of Delegates, said Friday that she would send back more than $2,000 in religious donations made to her own campaign.

Though the contributions are not illegal to receive, they might threaten the tax-exempt status of the churches that give them. Individual parishioners and pastors are allowed to give to campaigns as long as the money does not come from church accounts.

The Sun analysis found that McFadden received 12 contributions worth $2,225. Five churches gave, most notably Southern Baptist Church in East Baltimore, which contributed $1,475 to McFadden's re-election efforts.

The candidate who appears to have received the most from churches, Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr., could not be reached for comment yesterday. He has previously not agreed to return contributions. The Baltimore County Democrat has received about $16,000 since 2000.

Churches that give money to political candidates may face revocation of their tax-exempt status - though that action is rare - or a 10 percent excise tax on the contributions, according to the IRS.

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