Now that we’re into an all-important midterm election year, the Obama administration is turning up the heat on tea party groups and other conservative organizations, the very people who many say caused the Democrats’ “shellacking” in the 2010 midterms.
The Obama administration is using the ultimate agency of intimidation — the Internal Revenue Service — to give Democrats a leg up in what is predicted to be a difficult year for the party.
The IRS has proposed new rules for 501(c)(4) organizations that strike at the the heart of the tea party’s very existence — political activism.
The rules propose “regulations that provide guidance to tax-exempt social welfare organizations on political activities related to candidates that will not be considered to promote social welfare,” according to a document detailing the suggested changes.
The agency also is inviting public comments by Feb. 27.
The laundry list of provisions the IRS proposes that 501(c)(4) organizations must comply with includes, according to WND:
- Prohibit using words like “oppose,” “vote,” “support,” “defeat,” and “reject.”
- Prohibit mentioning, on its website or on any communication (email, letter, etc.) that would reach 500 people or more, the name of a candidate for office, 30 days before a primary election and 60 days before a general election.
- Prohibit mentioning the name of a political party, 30 days before a primary election and 60 days before a general election, if that party has a candidate running for office.
- Prohibit voter registration drives or conducting a non-partisan “get-out-the-vote drive.”
- Prohibit creating or distributing voter guides outlining how incumbents voted on particular bills.
- Prohibit hosting candidates for office at any event, including debates and charitable fundraisers, 30 days before a primary election or 60 days before the general election, if the candidate is part of the event’s program.
- Restrict employees of such organizations from volunteering for campaigns.
- Prohibit distributing any materials prepared on behalf a candidate for office.
- Restrict the ability of officers and leaders of such organizations to publicly speak about incumbents, legislation, and/or voting records.
- Restrict the ability of officers and leaders of such organizations to make public statements regarding the nomination of judges.
- Create a 90-day blackout period, on an election year, that restricts the speech of 501(c)(4) organizations.
Just as telling is that the proposed rule changes don’t affect the tax-exempt status of 501(c)(5) organizations – including labor unions and trade organizations, the lifeblood of the Democratic Party.
To be fair, the IRS’s proposed rulings don’t specifically target conservative organizations. However, when coming on the heels of the IRS’s targeting of tea party and similar groups that made the news eight months ago, this appears to be something of a “double whammy” for the right.
When the media reported in May that the IRS was targeting conservative groups seeking 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status, the president seemed incensed and promised to get to the bottom of it.
“It’s inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it,” he said, according to Yahoo News. “I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency — but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives.”
Eight months have passed, and not only has the president relegated the IRS’s conduct to his list of “phony scandals,” but his administration is turning up the heat on groups that have proved most effective in opposing him and his policies.
Read the full text of the IRS’s proposed rule changes here.
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