Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tea Party not a victim of IRS vendetta after all

Here's the first non-hysterical piece I've seen on the IRS mess. Tea Party groups were not the only ones singled out by the IRS. Some "471 groups received additional scrutiny, a total that indicates a crackdown on politically active nonprofit groups that extends beyond the Tea Party outfits." Liberal groups were targeted for additional scrutiny too and at least one had their status denied. So far no Tea Party group has claimed their applications wasn't approved. No doubt more of them were targeted but only because they filed many more applications than anyone else. And this is still true:
“The real problem is that phony 501(c)(4) groups are exploiting the tax laws to protect donors who don’t want to be held accountable for vicious, deceitful political ads,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
The good news about this pseudo-scandal is it spurred some action on Capitol Hill to address the larger issues.
Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who sits on the Senate Finance Committee, which is conducting its own IRS investigation, has introduced legislation with Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski to require all groups spending money on politics to disclose their donors.

“These problems will continue as long as there is an absence of clear and enforceable rules,” Wyden told reporters yesterday. “In the absence of clear and enforceable rules the bureaucracy pretty much makes it up as they go along.”
This would help. The deep pocket funders of the dark money groups don't care so much about the tax break as they do about keeping their donors secret. Force them to disclose their donors and they may lose interest in forming these groups at all. At worst, they couldn't hide behind fake grassroots front groups anymore. That would help some.

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