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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Senate Dems Pressure IRS To Regulate Political Speech, While Conservative & Liberal Grassroots Object;

by AF "Tony" Branco
   Today in Washington, D.C. - Feb. 14, 2014
Congress is NOT in session.

Yesterday, The Hill “Senate Democrats facing tough elections this year want the Internal Revenue Service to play a more aggressive role in regulating outside groups expected to spend millions of dollars on their races. In the wake of the IRS targeting scandal, the Democrats are publicly prodding the agency instead of lobbying them directly. They are also careful to say the IRS should treat conservative and liberal groups equally, but they’re concerned about an impending tidal wave of attack ads funded by GOP-allied organizations. ‘If they’re claiming the tax relief, the tax benefit to be a nonprofit for social relief or social justice, then that’s what they should be doing,’ said Sen. Mark Begich (D), who faces a competitive race in Alaska. ‘If it’s to give them cover so they can do political activity, that’s abusing the tax code. And either side.’ Asked if the IRS should play a more active role policing political advocacy by groups that claim to be focused on social welfare, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) responded, ‘Absolutely.’ . . . She called the glut of political spending by self-described social welfare groups that qualify under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code ‘outrageous.’ . . . Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.), the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent, said the IRS has jurisdiction over 501(c)(4) groups, as well as charities, which fall under section 501(c)(3) of the tax code and sometimes engage in quasi-political activity. ‘That whole 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4) [issue], those are IRS numbers. It is inherently an internal revenue matter,’ he said. ‘There are two things you don’t want in political money, in the fundraising world and expenditure world. You don’t want secret money, and you don’t want unlimited money, and that’s what we have now.’ . . .

“Under new proposed regulations by the Treasury Department, the IRS would define voter registration, distributing voter guides and running ads that mention candidates as political activities. It also proposed setting a bright-line limit for what percentage of groups’ activity would be allowed to fall into the category of candidate-related political activity. If enacted, the regulations would, in effect, limit how much outside groups, such as Americans for Prosperity or League of Conservation Voters, could spend as a percentage of their budgets on the Senate races. Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the Senate Democrats’ chief political strategist, called for the IRS to curb political spending by outside groups during a major speech on how to blunt the impact of conservative donors such as the Koch brothers. ‘The Tea Party elites gained extraordinary influence by being able to funnel millions of dollars into campaigns with ads that distort the truth and attack government,’ he said in remarks at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. ‘There are many things that can be done administratively by the IRS and other government agencies — we must redouble those efforts immediately,’ he added.”

So are Senate Democrats trying to publicly pressure the IRS to silence groups that disagree with them to help themselves in an election year? This action by the IRS is so harmful to free speech, though, that both conservative and liberal groups are joining together to oppose this rule. 

The New York Times writes today, “With time running short, both progressive and conservative advocacy groups are raising serious objections to new rules proposed by the Obama administration to rein in political activity by nonprofit organizations that are not required to disclose sources of their funding. In a rare agreement between Tea Party and liberal activists, organizations across the political spectrum say new regulations drafted by the Internal Revenue Service to curb a surge in political spending and activity by nonprofits are far too broad. They fear that enforcement of the regulations would chill more neutral civic initiatives such as voter registration efforts and candidate forums. A strong backlash from conservatives was anticipated after the I.R.S. made the recommended changes public in November. Many contend that the Obama administration is out to muzzle them, citing the heightened scrutiny the I.R.S. gave to nonprofit applications from Tea Party-affiliated groups. But groups associated with more liberal causes are also calling on the I.R.S. to substantially rethink or withdraw the proposal, criticizing it as overreaching, impractical and undemocratic. . . . More than 23,000 public comments — a record, according to the agency — have been submitted regarding the proposal to put new restrictions on so-called social welfare groups, ahead of the Feb. 27 deadline. Conservatives have taken harsh issue with the effort, but strong opposition has also been registered by organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, with other left-leaning groups such as the Alliance for Justice planning to formally file objections.”

The Times adds, “Representatives of groups on the right, along with Republican members of Congress, say they fear the I.R.S. intends to impose the regulations in time for this year’s midterm elections or, at a minimum, make organizations more cautious about their activities. They also note that the rules do not apply to labor unions, often a Democratic ally. ‘Many of the 501(c)(4)’s that are affected are conservative and free-market organizations, and they prefer to keep them off the playing field or create uncertainty so they won’t participate in the midterms,’ said Mark Holden, senior vice president and general counsel for Koch Industries. The Koch brothers, David and Charles, have been major backers of conservative nonprofits such as Americans for Prosperity, which is spending heavily in states with competitive Senate contests. . . . Congressional Republicans have demanded that the administration abandon the proposal and provide documentation and correspondence leading up to the agency’s decision to offer the new rules. ‘The administration knows it could never get anything like this through Congress the democratic way, so it’s trying to quietly impose the new regulations through the back door — by executive fiat,’ said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader and a longtime opponent of efforts to put federal controls on campaign spending.”

As Newsmax noted earlier this week, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced a bill to prevent the IRS from establishing rules like this that would restrict First Amendment rights. Speaking on the Senate floor on Tuesday, Leader McConnell said, “[L]et’s be clear: all of this is simply unacceptable. And after denouncing the abuse last year, I believe it is short-sighted of our friends on the other side not to oppose these rules more forcefully today. The path this Administration is embarking on is a dangerous one with the slipperiest of slopes – left-leaning civic groups should be just as alarmed about what these regulations could mean for them in the future as what the rules almost certainly will mean for conservative groups today. That’s why some, like the ACLU, have begun to speak out. . . . So that’s why today I – along with Senators Flake, and Roberts, and Hatch, and others – have introduced legislation that would prevent the IRS from enacting regulations that would permit the suppression of First Amendment rights. It aims to return the agency to its mission and get it out of the speech-police business altogether – a goal that should be a bipartisan one. This is something worth fighting for. It’s something I hope Commissioner Koskinen will work with us to achieve. But if he doesn’t, he should know that we are prepared go to the mat to defend the First Amendment rights of our constituents and neighbors – and that we will continue to do so until those rights are safe once again.”

As Leader McConnell said earlier, “The bottom line is this: Americans need to be able to trust the IRS again. And that means getting our nation’s tax agency back to the mission it was designed to perform: things like processing tax returns. Not regulating free speech. The Obama Administration’s proposed rule has almost nothing to do with actual tax policy. It’s more about making harassment of its political opponents the official policy of the IRS. And that’s completely unacceptable. Remember: This is an agency that has access to some of Americans’ most sensitive personal information – with the power to audit, penalize, and harass, power that is pretty wide-ranging. That’s why groups all across the political spectrum, from the ACLU to the Chamber of Commerce, have expressed their concerns about this rule.”

Tags: Seante Democrats, pressure IRS, regulate free speech To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 1:45 PM - Post Link


Anonymous Carla Miller said...

SERIOUSLY.....are articles of impeachment possible?

Blogger Bill Smith said...

Carla, Articles of impeachment are possible in the House BUT an Impeachment conviction in by a Democrat controlled Senate is not.possible. Short of Mr. Obama declaring himself emperor of the U.S. or worse, democrats are not going to vote to remove a Democrat President especially the first black U.S. president. He knows this! His supporters know this!

Anonymous Carla Miller said...

Well that much I knew....that NOTHING can get past Harry Reid......but do you think that the PEOPLE ..seeing that they have been royally screwed, will press enough of their Democrat Senators to fight for their own jobs and abandon their king ???


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