President Trump believes that the Church of Scientology should have its tax exemption revoked, according to a longtime family aide.
Lynne Patton, who has worked for Trump’s family since 2009, told actress Leah Remini of the president’s position in an unsolicited Twitter message sent last May.
“From The moment I saw your series I told President Trump & his family we needed to revoke their tax exempt status,” she said on May 30, according to The Huffington Post.
“They couldn’t agree more, but please don’t publicize that yet,” added Patton, who also heads up the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Region II, which includes New Jersey and New York.
“I want to do more due diligence on what the [Internal Revenue Service] has attempted in the past (or maybe you can enlighten me), then I’ll identify who we need to connect with again.”
Patton next wrote Remini another message the same day reading, “This is going to get done in the next 4 years or I’ll die trying. Knock on wood!”
“I look forward to doing my part to help put an end to this ongoing nightmare and blatant misuse of our IRS rules & regulations,” she continued on May 31.
“I want to do more research on Scientology’s history with the IRS, to date, so that I can better understand what tactics have been applied and where we can pick up.”
Remini starred on CBS’s beloved sitcom King of Queens for nine years, and she left Scientology in 2013.
The actress has since become a vocal critic of the church, producing and starring in a documentary series about it since 2016.
A&E’s "Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath" attempts to detail abuses by Scientology’s leadership using documentary evidence and interviews.
The show’s first season last year won an Emmy Award, and the second season is currently airing.
The Post reported that it remains unclear if Patton ever communicated with the IRS, but experts told the publication that such urging from an administration official may be illegal.
“For the White House or any administration official to try and influence who the IRS targets, for whatever reason, is wrong and could result in a violation of the law,” said Larry Noble, the former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
“The IRS must make these decisions independently without any influence by the White House or administration officials.”
“The IRS may begin a church tax inquiry only if an appropriate high-level Treasury official reasonably believes, on the basis of facts and circumstances recorded in writing, that an organization claiming to be a church or convention or association of churches may not qualify for an exemption,” an excerpt from the IRS website states.