The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is again being used for political purposes, attempting to suppress freedom of speech, political organization and activism, and thwarting the growth of grassroots groups that are antipathetic to the administration’s objectives. The effects of their previous targeting of conservative, especially Tea Party groups, were significant, according to researchers at Harvard University. The renewed efforts to suppress political activism by controlling and shaping the political landscape are an affront to our core values as a nation.
According to a Treasury Department (which administers and operates the IRS) posting on November 26, several new restrictions are being imposed on political organizations structured as 501(c) nonprofit entities. They include a prohibition to promulgate any information that even mentions political candidates’ names 30 days before a primary election, and 60 days before a general election.They would also prohibit communications with an audience of over 500 people that so much as mention the name of a particular candidate within that time period. This provision would include newsletters, columns, blog entries or other publications, whether in print form, broadcast, or online.
The way the regulations are drafted, it appears that the primary goal is not only to cripple any political advocacy group, but to force them into restructuring as 527 groups that are usually issue-based, rather than candidate oriented political organizations. 527s are also non-profit, but have the discomfiting distinction of being required to disclose their donors’ names.
The net result of the proposed regulations would not only severely restrict and stifle political free speech by such groups, but provide public information to enable the systematic targeting of such individuals by an unscrupulous administration using the full force and power of the various government agencies. As we have documented before, and is now a matter of public record, the administration has used the IRS, Department of Justice, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the FBI to selectively harass individuals and organizations who are not supportive of the administration and their agenda.
Constitutional attorney and political analyst Carol Platt Liebau says of the proposed regulations, “Rather than targeting the tea parties at the back end — through ad hoc hassling, unreasonable and intrusive requests for information, and deliberate delay of approval applications — it seems that the IRS is now trying to target the tea parties from the front end, setting up regulations that would make it practically impossible for them (and them alone) to function.”
She continued, “It is unprecedented for any administration (at least in modern memory) so overtly — and shamelessly — to harass law-abiding critics from exercising the liberties the Constitution was intended to secure. And these new regs make it clear that the corruption, politicization and rot at the IRS extend far beyond the little band of officials named in the earlier tea party targeting scandal.”
House of Representatives Ways & Means Chairman, Dave Camp, agrees. “The committee has reviewed thousands of tax exempt applications. The new regulation so closely mirrors the abused tea-party group applications, it leads me to question if this new proposed regulation is simply another form of targeting.”
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