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GOPs Try to Block IRS Rule That Threatens to Shut Down Conservative 501(c)(4)s

Rule could go into effect as soon as the end of the month despite a record 23,000 public comments the agency needs to process.

by
Bridget Johnson

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February 11, 2014 - 5:52 pm
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WASHINGTON — Thirty-nine Republican senators introduced a bill today to block the Internal Revenue Service from issuing a rule that would narrow the definition of who qualifies for a 501(c)(4) exemption as a social welfare organization.

The Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act, which also passed out of a House committee, would freeze the finalization of the rule for one year and restore the 501(c)(4) standards and definitions that were in place before conservative groups started to come under extra scrutiny in 2010.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said on the Senate floor today that he learned over the Thanksgiving break “that the IRS had diagnosed the problem and offered its regulatory solution despite the fact that the multiple investigations were far from complete.”

“On Friday, November 29th,  and without warning, the IRS published a proposed rule that would restrict the activities of 501(c)(4) organizations, effectively limit their speech, and curtail their civic participation – bringing a whole new meaning to Black Friday,” Flake said. “The rule singles out the same conservative groups that were previously targeted by the IRS and threatens to shut them down. It further attempts to legitimatize the targeting of organizations that hold ideological views in contrast to the administration’s.”

“It should be no surprise since critics of these conservative organizations have openly called for their extinction.”

The proposed guidance defines the term “candidate-related political activity,” and would amend current regulations by indicating that the promotion of social welfare does not include this type of activity, according to the IRS, which said the intention is to “reduce the need to conduct fact-intensive inquiries by replacing this test with more definitive rules.”

Activities that would disqualify an organization seeking 501(c)(4) status include “communications that expressly advocate for a clearly identified political candidate or candidates of a political party,” “any contribution that is recognized under campaign finance law as a reportable contribution,” hosting a candidate at an event within 60 days of a general election, and voter registration or “get-out-the-vote” drives.

Flake said the IRS wants “to force 501(c)(4) organizations into ill-fitting structures devised more appropriately for political committees in order to require the disclosure of conservative supporters.”

“The IRS and the White House claim innocently that the proposed rule is meant to clear up confusion about how to process the applications of 501(c)(4) organizations involved in political activities,” the senator continued. “…Before the IRS began flagging the applications of conservative groups in February 2010, these types of applications were being processed within three months. Email traffic between IRS employees shows that the applications of conservative organizations were not flagged out of confusion but rather because of media attention and potential interest to Washington.”

“So let’s call this rule what it is – an attempt to silence the voices of conservative organizations.”

Co-sponsors of the bill, introduced by Flake and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), include Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.).

“To be clear – 501(c)(4)s are permitted to engage in the political process and in political discourse. And they should continue to be allowed to do so. But this regulation seeks to limit their participation in a host of advocacy and education activities, even nonpartisan voter registration and education drives,” Flake said.

“These activities have a clear role in promoting civic engagement and social welfare – the precise purpose of the 501(c)(4) structure. Unfortunately, the rule would suppress conservative voices by forcing organizations to quit these activities or be shut down,” he added. “Such a gag order on conservative groups has been long-desired by this administration.”

Top Rated Comments   
"How is narrowing what activities qualify under a 501c4 limiting free speech? "

And some say there is no such thing as a stupid question.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (18)
All Comments   (18)
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I said when the 501c4 issue first came up that it was going to be a problem trying to use it for political purposes. So the IRS is doing what it should have done several years ago. It would have saved a lot of wasted time and money. There's simply nothing to be found at the IRS. That is nothing more than Darrell Issa trying to build his career.

For any of you who want to tell me I'm blind or stupid, let me say I've done the same kind of thing more than once, not for the IRS, but I have used criteria to sort with that couldn't be used for decision making. Also, paying attention to issues that are likely to be trouble is smart. If anybody wants to play monkey and throw stuff at the fan, I intend to know and have stepped aside.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Key words are: Non-profit - Tax exempt - Social Welfare
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you are really interested in the Freedom and viability of this Nation, now is the time to Abolish the Federal Reserve System and it cohort in Crime, the IRS.
Do a bit of research and see where both of these nightmares came from.
I will give you a clue -- both came from the same source and both were foisted upon the American People by Democrats.... feeding us a pack of lies.
Second Clue, Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller.... follow his parentage to the source of our troubles....
The solution is a Constitutional Convention whereby the States are once again in complete charge of the Nation.... The Federal Government is held in abeyance awaiting the New Constitution created by the acts of the States in Convention...
This is where we can abolish the contract with the Privately Owned, Closed, Secret Corporation called the Federal Reserve System and at the same time do the same thing to the Internal Revenue Corporation which is another Closed and Secret Corporation.... These two Corporations have, in the last 100 years, created and financed every recession, every war and every economic turmoil on the earth....
Don't you think it is time to destroy this cancer on the world.....
Read the Book called The Creature from Jekyll Island and learn about money and manipulation.....
Until we know who we are dealing with we can never understand what happens to honest men elected to office and their ability to become thieves... and the speed that it happens.... Money talks in all languages...
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Not a single piece of evidence showing any political motivation," according to Sen. Levin.

A ratio of 292 conservative to 6 liberal 501(c)4 organizations subjected to indefensible harassment shows no political motivation on the part of the IRS in the view of the senator.

I thank God that the fat, boneheaded idiot is retiring, while at the same time feeling entitled to just a little irritation with the Almighty for leaving the fool in place for so long.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Unfortunately he's the OtherBrotherLevin: Sander. Carl Levin is the retiring senator, Sander is actually the older (I believe) brother who is a House Rep. Both are union liberals and both have been far too powerful. While it's good to see the senator go, Sander still represents a pox on the House. Between them, the unions and the far colder weather, I couldn't wait to leave Michigan - the very first day after we retired.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Is it not time for massive acts of civil disobedience?
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Funny, I've been trending that way more and more. Growing up in the 60s in Leftist Southeastern Michigan (UofM, EMU and the worst of all, Wayne State) where the unions rule, I watched with anger while my classmates ("Socialism is the only way") join SDS and commit violent acts against the schools and cities. We may not have a choice; but I am concerned that is what Obama & Co. want us 'wingnuts' to do to allow them to invoke martial law and suspend elections.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Liberal fascism marches on. The 2014 elections are going to be pull out the stops 24/7, media big lies, ballot stuffing election fraud. These anti-democratic brownshirts aren't going to relinquish power peacefully or legitimately.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
At the end of the day, the Obama administration will not accept any solution that allows Conservative organizations to exist. Can you image a scandal wherein left-wing applications were held up, and three years later, the situation is the same?
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Something I was looking for in the article but couldn’t find: In what way does this proposed rule affect conservative organizations differently from leftist ones?
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
They won't enforce it against leftist groups, except for the few leftist groups that oppose Obama. Selective enforcement - Obama does that, you know.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Or to put it another way, Leftist opinions aren't political. they're simply true. Reality has a liberal bias. As I once argued in Wikipedia, that is an simple way to destroy neutrality.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama carries fire and sword into our country. His people had better hope they never lose power lest fire and sword be carried into their own heartland.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sadly, with the discretionary/selective enforcement, OFA proceeds unabated.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
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