- - Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Culture challenge of the week: Legalizing IRS discrimination

Remember the recent IRS scandal? The Internal Revenue Service admitted to improperly targeting conservative and libertarian groups, individuals and their families — and not just groups involved in the political process. It even targeted the family counseling radio show “FamilyTalk,” on whose board of directors I serve.

Yet President Obama told Fox News show host Bill O’Reilly in a recent interview that there is “not even a smidgen of corruption” at the IRS.


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Now the IRS is proposing rules to make its illegal efforts to silence conservatives an official part of its regulatory code.

Not only would these oppressive regulations trample the First Amendment, but they also would unfairly favor liberal groups over conservative and libertarian organizations.

Why? Instead of simply harassing conservative groups and individuals, or delaying or denying requests for tax-exempt status, the IRS now is trying to dissuade conservatives from applying for tax-exempt status in the first place by changing the standards required to receive it. For groups that already exist, the IRS seeks to bar them from educating voters about the voting records and stated positions of those in power. These proposed limits on political speech are so severe that one can’t help but think of two things — the KGB and the question, “What are they afraid of?”

Nonprofit groups designated as 501(c) 4 already are limited in their ability to engage in “candidate-related political activity.” The regulations are meant to broaden the definitions of “candidate” and “political activity” to give the IRS more power to regulate conservative action. But get this: The rules would not apply to labor unions or trade associations — many of which have long supported liberal causes.

The rules would bar:

Criticism of incumbents 30 days before primary elections and 60 days before general elections. In other words, you can’t speak poorly about those in power.

Any references to politicians (candidates, appointees, etc.).

Hosting candidate debates.

Posting voting records of incumbents on websites before elections.

Creating or distributing voter guides.

Phone calls about upcoming elections, even when no candidate is mentioned.

Voter registration drives — no more signing up folks at churches or in your neighborhood, for instance.

Story Continues →