METHUEN — A Lawrence organization could have its nonprofit status questioned over a recent letter to the editor published in The Eagle-Tribune, according to IRS guidelines.
On Aug. 22, The Eagle-Tribune published a letter by Carina Pappalardo, CEO of The Psychological Center, endorsing Methuen mayoral candidate Jennifer Kannan.
The two women also have ties to the Methuen Police Department — Pappalardo is married to Lt. Michael Pappalardo and Kannan's son is a patrolman.
The letter touted Kannan's involvement with The Psychological Center as a board member.
It starts, "I first met Jennifer when she joined the board of The Psychological Center, before I became CEO and was serving at the center in a different capacity. At that time the center had reached a crisis point. Some board members were pushing for closure of the agency because of lack of funding. Other board members were resigning."
Pappalardo wrote, "It is no exaggeration to say that were it not for Jennifer and the other board members who stayed and the new members who joined, our doors would be closed."
The letter is signed "Carina Pappalardo, CEO The Psychological Center."
When asked about it, Pappalardo said the letter was written "in my individual capacity and was not intended to be a statement made on behalf of The Psychological Center."
"I do apologize for any ambiguity in that regard and appreciate the chance to clarify that point," she said.
But according to guidelines spelled out by the IRS, the political nature of the letter is problematic.
A spokesperson for the governmental agency would not comment specifically on The Psychological Center. The person instead directed a reporter to an IRS policy that explains tax-exempt organizations cannot participate in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office. That includes "the publishing or distributing of statements," according to the policy.
The policy states a violation "may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of excise tax."
According to The Psychological Center's website, the nonprofit has a long history of offering services through three programs — Daybreak Shelter, Pegasus House, and Women’s View — in the Greater Lawrence area.
Their services include substance abuse education and treatment, recovery support services, mental health counseling, safe shelter and life skills.