Category Archives: 501 (C) (4)’s

Who’s Going to Jail?

Republicans are ramping up their attacks on Obama before the 2014 elections. After listening to Bill O’Reilly on Thursday evening, it seems they are painting him as some kind of sinister cross between Mr. Magoo and Tupac, a sort of clueless gangster. If he did the things they are saying he did then he is kind of diabolical. If he didn’t do them then either he does not have his fingers on the pulse of his administration or the government is just too darn big. I absolutely hope that Obama’s rather confused accusers are not right because right now the right is just too far to the right for me.
 

 

If anyone should go to jail for the IRS “scandal”, it should be a Republican.  Pick one, almost any one and you will be safe in assigning guilt. The IRS conducts audits of not just groups, but categories of tax documents. Yes, it looks like they did a search with search terms that sorted 501 C-4’s with certain key words in the name box and that those key words seemed to target Conservative groups. Yes we do have to watch out for this type of thing because it could undermine freedom through the use of intimidation.

But everyone knows that 501 C-4’s were abused by the GOP in the last election. We knew it even as it was happening, but had no real recourse. We knew by the money flying into the GOP campaign and by the names of the groups who sponsored the flood of awful ads. Republicans may not have stepped over the letter of the tax laws, but they certainly stomped all over the spirit of the tax laws. They knew that they were using these organizations to finance the 2012 election, but they had their own deniability rationales perfected and they knew it would be almost impossible to prosecute them or turn down their tax exempt status because they apparently walked the line just about perfectly. The GOP seems to really love and rely on those razor-edge percentages they are always throwing around. In this case the percentage is 49%.

Accusing your enemy of a scary-sounding act of treason is a great tactic to distract attention from your own wrong-doing. Ouch. How can anyone question your righteousness in this matter? The IRS was looking for crooks and got a scandal. Well played. However, it rankles that the party that is trying to curtail our civil rights has taken refuge in a tax code change that was designed to protect civil rights. In 1959 when they changed 501 C-4’s from exclusively social welfare organizations to primarily social welfare organizations to help the NAACP raise needed funds and fight discrimination, they never imagined that it would come back to bite freedom in the butt in 2012.

Get rid of this loophole. Change the wording of the tax code regarding 501 C-4’s back to the original language (as soon as you can get enough votes to do this) and stop this witch hunt before we ferret out all those Republicans whose math is not so good and who overstepped that 49% level. We should definitely be investigating 501 C-4’s, but we need to investigate all of them, and be really careful about what key words are used in future searches.
 
 

Here’s a link to an article called Conservative Groups Granted Exemption Vastly Outspent Liberal Ones

http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2013/05/conservative-groups-granted-exemption-vastly-outspent-liberal.html

 This chart is from that article.

Viewpoint

Group

Ruling Date

2010

2012

C

Main Street Advocacy

Jan 2010

$0

$18,303

C

American Action Network

April 2010

$18,945,602

$11,689,399

C

Alliance for America’s Future

July 2010

$703,772

0

L

America Votes

July 2010

$252,876

$46,666

C

Heritage Action for America

Aug 2010

$0

$236,346

C

American Values Action

Sept 2010

$0

$14,761

L

Common Sense Movement

Sept 2010

$0

$29,760

L

Florida Watch Action

Sept 2010

$0

$30,053

C

Physicians for a Responsible Government

Oct 2010

$17,532

$0

C

Docs 4 Patients Care

Feb 2011

$24,363

0

C

Ending Spending

March 2011

$0

$515,000

C

Freedom Born

Dec 2011

$0

$32,833

C

Faith & Freedom Coalition Delaware

Jan 2012

$0

$18,354

L

StudentsFirst

Feb 2012

$0

$10,168

L

BlueGreen Alliance

March 2012

$473,246

0

L

IA Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund

May 2012

$0

$7,706

C

NFIB The Voice of Free Enterprise

June 2012

$0

$1,983,385

C

Protect the Harvest

June 2012

$0

$197,766

L

Progressive Leadership Alliance/Nevada Action Fund

June 2012

$0

$129,992

L

Progressive USA

July 2012

$37,071

$0

C

A Better America Now

March 2013

$0

$65,664

 

This author, Robert McGuire , recommends you use the following tags to find more information on this topic.

 

Tags: a better america now, advancing wisconsin, america votes, american action network, american commitment, american future fund, bluegreen alliance, center to protect patient rights, citizens united, crossroads gps, dark money, Federal election commission, internal revenue service, karl rove, norm coleman, patriot majority, priorities usa, robert maguire, shadow money trail, tc4 trust, votevets.org

 

Who’s a Patriot?

 
I realize that lots of activities that occur in an election cycle are suspect as tactics that skirt legality. I also realize that both parties probably engage in these kinds of behavior. To have the losing party, guilty of their own departures from polite governance (gerrymandering, manipulating voter laws), focusing in classic sour grapes fashion on possible “dirty tricks” of the opposite party is normal for a short period of time after an election, but we expect the pouting and posturing to die down after a brief period of venting and we expect proper legislative behavior to ensue.

 

I also admit that the IRS should not use its prodigious powers of intimidation against any particular group to manipulate political outcomes or as a way to target a political group. This could be used to move a democracy towards tyranny. However, if one political party twists the intent of a tax classification for purposes of moving illegal money into a campaign, since this is a tax classification, it would fall to the IRS to investigate whether there was abuse, in this case of 501(C)(4)’s. Since the Democratic Party did not rely heavily on 501(C)(4) groups, but used a new digital approach it is possible they did not invite the same level of scrutiny as the same tax forms did on the Republican side.

 

If the President ordered the IRS to make the process of approval as a 501(C)(4) group more difficult, then that would be very wrong, of course. Would it be worse than the strategies employed by the other party? I guess we will answer that question when and if we have to. In the meantime, this still looks like a case where IRS employees used certain “search” terms to zero in on the forms that might be political as opposed to social and therefore ineligible for 501(C)(4) status. And that is what I want to address, those search terms and who they “belong” to.

 

If you look up patriot online you get this definition:

 

patriot n. 1. A person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors. 2. An automated surface-to-air missile system designed for early detection and interception of missiles or aircraft.

 
 

Or you might get this definition, basically the same without the mention of enemies and detractors:

Definition of PATRIOT

: one who loves his or her country and supports its authority and interests

 

If you type “images of American Patriots” into a search line some inspirational images pop up, but so do a pretty fair number of references to insurgencies and even some rather disturbing images which some people apparently see as satire or commentary. Here are a few of the images I found:

 

I always think of myself as an American patriot because I love my country and I support its authority and interests. I don’t blindly support everything that is done by every single American, but I am proud that America has shown the way to respect freedom and equality and that so many governments around the world have grown to celebrate similar values.

So when a group of Americans usurps the word Patriots and uses it to set themselves above other Americans and to exclude Americans who don’t agree with them, I feel that I have to remind them (Conservatives) that, contrary to contemporary usage and Fox pundits, the right wing does not own the term Patriot. These people, our neighbors, have a mental weakness that accepts the brainwashing of someone like Glenn Beck who is using them to foment some kind of “patriot” revolution, 1776-style, and to scare the bejeezus out of the rest of us. Nothing has happened in America that necessitates the raising of a militia to defend us from tyranny. The tyranny being discussed has been created to drum up ratings in the entertainment arm of the news business. Any one of us, even the most extreme Liberal, is a proud American Patriot, but perhaps just not as easily hypnotized by hysterical rhetoric.

Therefore it follows that just because the IRS searched for the keyword “patriot”, doesn’t mean that they chose that word to zero in on Conservatives. Maybe the IRS thinks that there can be Liberal Patriots also. The Tea Party does not own the word Patriot either. They don’t really even own the words “tea party”.