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by
Bryan Preston

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February 28, 2014 - 6:31 am

Well, this is one way to handle corruption and government abuse: Make it the official thing to do.

A group of Democratic senators urged the Obama administration on Thursday to cap the amount of political activity that tax-exempt 501(c)(4) groups can engage in at 5 to 15 percent.

The 15 senators, in public comments on a proposed regulation change that grew out of the IRS targeting controversy, said that the rules need to ensure that 501(c)(4)s can’t use their tax-exempt status to go around campaign finance rules.

“You will undoubtedly receive complaints from certain corners that these proposed rules will infringe on First Amendment speech rights,” Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and the other senators wrote to the Treasury Department and the IRS.

Because they do.

Remember when Obama found the IRS’ behavior “outrageous?” He doesn’t, and neither do these Democrats.

“Such complaints are without merit: these rules would not restrict anyone’s right to speak, or to spend money to influence elections,” the senators added. “If implemented properly, the rules will only close a loophole that has until now allowed donors to evade campaign finance law disclosure requirements.”
It’s a shameless ploy.

The US Chamber of Commerce isn’t always right, but they’re right on this: The IRS shouldn’t be installed as the nation’s speech regulator. Ever.

This untenable proposal proves the obvious: the IRS has neither the expertise nor the authority to regulate political speech. The proposed rules are absurdly and needlessly broad, trampling on speech that has never been regulated before and that is at the heart of the First Amendment. The proposal also puts the tax rules in hopeless conflict with themselves and other laws, making them unworkable as a practical matter.

That confusion may be purposeful, as it will allow the IRS to pick and choose and weaponize its speech regulations. There’s no way that that enhances liberty.

Among the questions that remain unanswered in the IRS scandal that the Democrats are no longer interested in looking into: Why did so many executive branch agencies descend on Catherine Engelbrecht, at the same time that the IRS was slow-dragging her True the Vote tax-exempt application? How did that happen? Did anyone in the White House coordinate that assault?

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

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