Ron Coddington’s Illegally Placed Campaign Signs Cause
Headaches to St. Ambrose Church, School and Archdiocese
The folks at St. Ambrose Church say Ron Coddington illegally placed large wooden campaign signs on church and school property without permission.
This is a big deal, a very big deal with St. Ambrose Church and its Archdiocese as well. Having a political sign on church property opens up the church to the potential of losing its tax exempt status and creates an embarrassing situation for the church, the school and the archdiocese.
Father Dalton and the St. Ambrose School principal should not have to scramble to take down political signs from the church and religious school property to protect St. Ambrose Church and school and the Archdiocese.
Local attorney Tom Connick, who graduated from Notre Dame Law School after serving in the military in Vietnam, was concerned about protecting the tax exempt status of the Church, School and Archdiocese. He spoke with Father Dalton and was told that Coddington did not have permission to put up any signs. He was also told by the St. Ambrose School Principal that Coddington did not have permission to put signs on the school property or swale and that the school took Coddington’s signs down but the signs were, without permission, put back up again so the school moved the signs to prevent them from being put up yet again. The St. Ambrose School principal is very familiar with the seriousness of candidates not placing signs on tax exempt property.
Coddington should know the law about church property and election signs, all candidates receive the candidate’s handbook. He says he is educated and brags about being an engineer, but his actions are anything but smart. Ask any resident at random and most would know that churches cannot participate in political activity, and that it is illegal for tax exempt non-profits to campaign.
Coddington’s behavior towards St. Ambrose Catholic Church and School and the Archdiocese is inexcusable. If Coddington does not know the basic law of protection of tax exempt status of Churches and religious schools he is too ignorant to be a Deerfield Beach City Commissioner.
Or, if Coddington does know the basic law of protection of the tax exempt status of Churches and religious schools, but blatantly put his perceived selfish needs ahead of protecting the tax exempt status of St. Ambrose Church and School and the Archdiocese, he is too self-serving to be a Deerfield Beach Commissioner.
About Coddington’s signs: they even failed to comply with election guidelines by a legally inadequate disclaimer (The Florida Candidate Handbook clearly says disclaimer “language must be verbatim as quoted in s. 106.143, F.S. variations are prohibited by law.”). This shows what kind of sloppy, shoot from the hip commissioner he is likely to be.
Coddington should explain why he would place Campaign signs on tax exempt religious property which exposes the Church and school tax exempt status. Coddington should explain why he did not get permission to put up the signs on the Church and Catholic School property. Come on Ron, who specifically at St Ambrose Catholic Church and who specifically at the St Ambrose Catholic School told you that you could put campaign signs on the Church and School property?
We in Deerfield Beach don’t need a commissioner who flaunts the law and thinks he knows best and can’t be bothered to check the regulations.
We in Deerfield Beach don’t need a commissioner who sends inappropriate off-color emails to city officials and then asks that information in them be redacted.
We in Deerfield Beach don’t need a commissioner who was removed from the City Marine Advisory Board by a unanimous vote of the entire City Commission. The entire Commission voted to remove Coddington because of his inappropriate behavior.
We in Deerfield Beach don’t need this kind of commissioner on our commission, we don’t need Ron Coddington.
Churches and Political Campaign Activity
Churches and other non-profits are strictly prohibited from engaging in political campaigning… An organization that qualifies as “tax-exempt” under Section 501(c)(3) is one that devotes its resources to educational, religious, scientific or other charitable activities, and that complies with a number of other rules, including the prohibition on political activity…
Churches cannot engage in any of the following activities under the federal tax law:
· Cannot endorse or oppose candidates for public office
· Cannot make any communication—either from the pulpit, in a newsletter, or church bulletin—which expressly advocates for the election or defeat of a candidate for public office
· Cannot make expenditures on behalf of a candidate for public office or allow any of their resources to be used indirectly for political purposes (e.g., use their phones for a phone bank)
· Cannot ask a candidate for public office to sign a pledge or other promise to support a particular issue
· Cannot distribute partisan campaign literature
· Cannot display political campaign signs on church property
A 501(c)(3) entity should not even tacitly express favor or disfavor of a particular candidate. (Tacitly means: implied but not expressed; understood or implied without being stated openly, such as introducing a candidate during a church service and saying that the candidate is a good friend of the church.)