The PJ Tatler

Democrat Rep. Horsford Brags, Wants the IRS to Become Even More Heavy-Handed on 501(c)(4) Groups

During today’s hilarious Democrat Twitter townhall meltdown, one House Democrat piped up to brag about something.

Rep. Steven Horsford’s (D-NV) tweet links to this page on his own website. On it, Horsford has posted his own attempt to get the IRS to go past what the law allows in regulating/oppressing conservative groups, during a hearing about the IRS targeting scandal on Wednesday.

Early on in his questioning, Horsford establishes that he is IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s friend, not adversary or interrogator:

I think that that’s more the tone that we should be working from, not the abusive tone that we continue to have from the Chairman of the Subcommittee or the full Committee that turns this something into that it’s not.

Rep. Horsford makes it clear: The IRS targeting of conservatives is not a scandal at all, to him.

Horsford then gets into more detailed questioning about IRS functions with respect to 501(c)(4) groups. Horsford explicitly connects his query to the Citizens United decision. That’s the decision that President Obama denounced in front of the Supreme Court during his 2010 State of the Union address.

The IRS’ illegal and biased scrutiny of conservative groups followed Obama’s remarks by a couple of months.

Emails revealed during the House investigations show that IRS staff including Lois Lerner were obsessed with the Citizens United ruling.

According to the report, as early as September 2010, Lerner forwarded to her colleagues an EO Tax Journal blog advising the IRS to “keep track of new c4s” and “be more pro-active” about catching groups created solely for political activities. One quote in the story specifically calls out the “educational organizations woven by the fabulously rich Koch Brothers to foster their own financial interest by political means.”

“I’m really thinking we need to do a c4 project next year,” Lerner said in the email.

Horsford questioned Koskinen on how the IRS interprets a 1959 regulation on 501(c)(4) groups. Horsford makes it clear that he wants the IRS to take a more expansive view of the original language, to allow for more scrutiny of some groups and less freedom for them to operate and speak on issues.

Rep. Horsford: I want to ask you, Commissioner, about a letter that I and 25 of my other colleagues sent to the acting commissioner, Mr. Werfel, relating to the discrepancy between the agency’s regulatory interpretation of the law dealing with 501(c)(4)’s, and what the U.S. code actually enumerates in statute.

Are you familiar with the request I made along with 25 of my colleagues on June 6, 2013?

Commissioner Koskinen: I’m not familiar with the specific language but I do know a number of people that have been encouraging us when we look at the regulations under the 501(c)(4) to start with the statute which says that social welfare organizations under 501(c)(4) should be exclusively involved in social welfare.

Rep. Horsford: And the regulation states ‘primarily.’

Commissioner Koskinen: The regulations established in 1959 have said ‘primarily.’

Rep. Horsford: Isn’t that problematic?

It wasn’t problematic until the Obama administration came along. Koskinen notes that now, the IRS is looking into a new interpretation of the 1959 statute.

Commissioner Koskinen: Well it’s been around for a long time and we have over 150,000 comments about how to deal with that issue, which we are seriously taking a look at. But it is the issue that the spectrum is: one end of the spectrum is it should be exclusive, i.e. no activity. The other end of the spectrum is that there shouldn’t be any limitations at all. And a third spot in the middle, is well primarily, some percentage close to 50 would be a good number. And we’re looking at that entire range of possibilities.

Horsford wants the tightest interpretation, to push so-called “dark money” away. He aims straight at Citizens United.

Rep. Horsford: Until you make that final determination this ambiguity remains. And because of the recent Citizens United decision, which created the huge influx of the number of organizations that were applying for tax-exempt status, has contributed to this problem, has it not?

Citizens United is settled law, in the same way that Democrats claim Obamacare is “settled law” — the Supreme Court has ruled.

As for Horsford, he is not interested in any further pursuit of the IRS targeting scandal. Because in his mind, it is not and never was a scandal at all.

I believe that there are certain staff, including Ms. Lerner, who have not served this administration well. That due to poor management, poor decision making, we are in a position to have to have these types of hearings.

And I’m not going to defend every action or decision that certain former staffers of the IRS have taken; but I also think it is inappropriate for members of this Committee to apply such a broad brush to all staff or all management of the IRS or other federal agencies.

I also think it takes a lot of gumption of certain members of Congress to question the request for critical pay authority, when this is the least productive Congress in the history of Congresses.

Hard-working people can’t get a raise, but members of Congress continue to get paid whether they do their jobs or get anything done around here or not.

At the same time that we’re having this hearing, which is the fifteenth hearing, there is a debate going on the floor right now that is crucial to our country’s safety, to international relations, and is one of the most serious issues that this Congress is being confronted with.

But instead, this Chairman has decided to have the fifteenth hearing on the same issue trying to assert the same allegations and never getting to the point of action on anything.

So, Mr. Chairman, either we get on with the business of the American people that they have sent us here, or we need to stop wasting time and taxpayer resources.

There are important issues that we need to be tackling. But unfortunately this Committee’s time has been wasted in large part.

Nothing to see here, say the Democrats. Other than their own desire to weaponize government against Americans who disagree with them.