Two BYU professors, which are subsidiary employees of the LDS church, errantly solicited funds from university alumni on behalf of US president hopeful and Massachusetts Govenor Mitt Romney reports the Boston Globe. “It wasn’t something BYU did, it wasn’t something I probably should have done, and it was bad judgment,” said associate dean of the BYU business school Steve Albrecht. While emails were sent out, no responses were forwarded to Romney members. Both the LDS church and BYU are prohibited by federal law from advocating a particular candidate or political party as tax exempt, non-profit organizations.
The New England paper suggests that The Church knowingly organized meetings between the Romney camp and church official Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in an effort to organize church sponsored fund raising efforts. While Holland did meet with members of Romney’s action committee, a church publicist claimed that the meeting was “simply a response to an appointment requested by an old friend” and to “make sure that they were doing [things] properly and to inform them of the church’s political neutrality.” The paper also claims, albeit unsubstantiated, that LDS president Gordon B. Hinckley “expressed no opposition” in helping Romney, this despite publicly and consistently reaffirming political neutrality, most recently in an advisory sent out last week to congregations nationwide. While The Church endorses no politically party, verbally or financially, members are individually encouraged to do so.
If anything, this was a lesson learned in grey areas for certain enthusiastic supporters. No harm, no foul. But a friendly note to Romney and his fund-raisers: Keep it clean, boys. While Mormons are sure to be a big help to your cash flow, ensure you’re using valid grass-root efforts so as not to jeopardize the church’s neutrality or place it in a compromising situation.