The Internal Revenge Service: IRS targeting of conservatives
It used to be that every April 15th, Americans would be united in their dislike of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) however under the current Administration they are going out of their way to become despised year round.
Late last year the IRS confessed to targeting conservative groups in a stunning abuse of power. Now the IRS, under direction from and with the full support of President Obama, proposes a draconian rule limiting the lawful activities of these same groups and all others organized under Section 501(c)(4).
Most 501c4 entities were formed to engage in citizen education and grassroots lobbying. The proposed IRS definition of ‘candidate related political activities’ sweeps into the definition essentially everything that a 501c4 organization normally does: Grassroots lobbying, Candidate forums, Candidate debates, issue advocacy, voter guides and even voter registration. The rules go even further to identify “candidates” to include appointees, so groups weighing in on executive or judicial nominations would be restricted. Such redefinitions normally are beyond the scope of the IRS.
This unprecedented power grab by the IRS further compounds the insult by exempting groups usually aligned with liberal pro-abortion ways of thinking, such as unions and newspapers. Comments from groups and individuals received by the IRS on this rulemaking were the largest quantity ever received by the agency – and yet the Obama Administration is still likely to go forward in this attempt to shut down free speech. There is even talk of using the rules to go after non-profits such as the March for Life or National Right to Life.
It is so egregious even the liberal American Civil Liberties Union opposes the changes.
Most social welfare organizations – on both the left and right — serve exactly that function as they see it, the promotion of social welfare and community good. Based on their respective visions, they advocate for the powerless and the voiceless. They promote fiscal responsibility and good government. They serve as a check on government overreach, or as a cheerleader for sound public policy.
In many of these functions, social welfare organizations praise or criticize candidates for public office on the issues and they should be able to do so freely, without fear of losing or being denied tax-exempt status, even if doing so could influence a citizen’s vote. Such advocacy is at the heart of our representative democracy. To the extent it influences voting, it does so by promoting an informed citizenry.
Legislation (H.R. 3865, the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act of 2014) in the House of Representatives sponsored by Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp (R-Mich.) handedly passed that Chamber (243 yes – 176 no …14 Dems vote yes ) however it is blocked in the Senate by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and faces a veto threat from President Obama.
H.R. 3865 would simply prohibit the IRS from finalizing the rule this year, giving it adequate time to consider all of the practical, statutory, and constitutional criticisms of its proposal – as well as giving investigators time to complete their investigations into the targeting scandal before deciding what, if any, legal reforms are appropriate. Currently the Obama Administration is doing all it can to prohibit a real investigation.
On the Senate side Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) offered two amendments aimed at protecting Americans from IRS abuses. One prohibited an IRS employee from intentionally targeting individuals or groups based on political views and the other established definitions regarding political activity that were created by the bipartisan Federal Election Commission.
Every Democrat voted to table the amendments.
Here are the two amendments Sen. Cruz brought up:
The highlights video is here: http://www.cruz.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=965
The complete video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YhRzlTObME