The White House has set its regulatory sights on nonprofits — particularly nonprofits with a political mission — and proposed a new batch of rules that would even prohibit the groups from distributing voter guides, or helping voters to register for elections.
The Washington Post said nonprofits with a political angle from both sides of the partisan aisle — like Crossroads GPS, co-founded by Republican Karl Rove, and the League of Conservation Voters, a Democratic operation — would be impacted by the proposed rules. Basically, the proposal calls on the Treasury Department to crack down on how the tax-exempt groups justify their “social welfare” missions, The Washington Post said.
For instance, handing out voter guides, running ads that actually name elected officials, leading people to register to vote — those would all be prohibited activities under the proposed rules. And that’s a significant crackdown, given most of these politically-tied groups spend considerable time and money doing just those things.
The White House view is that tax-exempt groups have had too much influence in elections in recent years. But legal minds say the clamp-down will bring on considerable challenge — and they predict that the new rules, if ultimately enacted, would actually drive money into private entities that don’t have to disclose their political activities.
“It sounds like a fairly dramatic proposal that would significantly change the ways in which tax-exempt organizations are used for political purposes,” said lawyer Robert Kelner, in The Washington Post. “The most striking thing is the apparent proposal to treat get-out-the-vote activity and voter registration as political activity, which has not been the IRS’s position generally speaking up until now.”