Tea Party Patriots leader Jenny Beth Martin said Friday that she doesn’t trust the Internal Revenue Service’s plan to go back and rewrite proposed new rules governing tax-exempt status for nonprofit groups that engage in some political activity.
“This is nothing more than double-speak from Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen,” Ms. Martin said. “Instead of walking-back proposed restrictions on free speech by 501(c)(4) groups, he and the Obama administration want to write them in secret.”
“Between drafting secret IRS rules and Senator Harry Reid trying to rewrite the First Amendment, Democrats are laying the groundwork to stifle free speech ahead of the 2016 elections,” said Ms. Martin, who co-founded Tea Party Patriots, one of the largest tea party organizations in America.
The proposed new rule, which has been effectively derailed, was widely viewed by tea party supporters as an attempt by the Obama administration to legitimize the IRS targeting of conservative groups with or seeking nonprofit status, a 501(c)(4) designation in the tax code.
Conservatives hailed that as a victory, saying that issuing a new version of the rule before the hearing is tantamount to starting over. Democrats on Capitol Hill regarded the move as a setback for their efforts to push wealthy donors to the periphery of political debate.
The IRS gave no timetable for when it might proceed.
“Instead of writing rules to circumvent the Constitution and restrict the free exercise of the First Amendment, the IRS should draft and enforce regulations prohibiting targeted intimidation campaigns against groups like Tea Party Patriots and other nonprofits with which the Obama administration disagrees,” Ms. Martin said.
“While they’re at it,” she added, “they should also ensure that their employees tell the truth when asked about who in Congress and the administration instructed them to target certain groups with threats and intimidation.”