Repeat after them, “Citizens United made the IRS do it”
The Democratic Party and left-media obsession with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision continues unabated.
Citizens United is the all purpose bogeyman — whatever the political problem, put it at the doorstep of a decision which simply said that groups of people can join together for political purposes and that one of the vehicles for such gatherings is the corporate form.
Forget that Democrats have used various forms of supposedly not-for-profit corporate entities for decades, Media Matters being one of the most famous, most partisan, and most mischievous 501(c)(3) organizations.
When the IRS targeted newly forming 501(c)(4) organizations, it was not concerned with Citizens United — it was concerned with which side of the political aisle the organization was on.
As ABC News reveals today, the IRS wanted to know the politicial views of the organizations in great detail, Weirdest IRS Questions for the Tea Party: Views, Donors, and Etymology:
- “Provide a list of all issues that are important to your organization. Indicate your position regarding each issue.”
- “Please explain in detail the derivation of your organization’s name.” (in a letter to the Ohio-based 1851 Center for Constitutional Law)
- “Please explain in detail your organization’s involvement with the Tea Party.”
- “Provide details regarding your relationship with Justin Binik-Thomas.” (a Cincinnati-area Tea-Party activist)
- “Provide information regarding the Butler County Teen Age Republicans and your relationship.”
- “Submit the following information relating to your past and present directors, officers, and key employees: a) Provide a resume for each.”
- “The names of the donors, contributors, and grantors. … The amounts of each of the donations, contributions, and grants and the dates you received them.”
- “The names of persons from your organization and the amount of time they spent on the event or program.” (for events)
- “Provide copies of the handbills you distributed at your monthly meetings.”
- “Fully describe your youth outreach program with the local school.”
- “Please provide copies of all your current web pages, including your Blog posts. Please provide copies of all of your newsletters, bulletins, flyers, newsletters or any other media or literature you have disseminated to your members or others. Please provide copies of stories and articles that have been published about you.”
- “Are you on Facebook or other social networking sites? If yes, provide copies of these pages.”
- “Provide copies of the agendas and minutes of your Board meetings and, if applicable, members ship meetings, including a description of legislative and electoral issues discussed, and whether candidates for political office were invited to address the meeting.”
- “Do your issue-related advocacy communications compare to the positions of candidates or slates of candidates on these issues with your positions? Provide copies of these communications. What percentage do these constitute of your issue-related advocacy communications?”
- “Do you have a close relationship with any candidate for political office or political party? If so describe fully the nature of that relationship.”
- “Apart from your responses to the preceding, estimate the percentage of your time and what percentage of your resources you will devote to activities in the 2012 election cycle, in which you will explicitly or implicitly support or oppose a candidate, candidates or slates of candidates, for public office.”
Only one type of political view subjected the entities to scrutiny, being patriotic Tea Party, smaller government opponents of Obama who were concerned with the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
This is a political scandal of the highest order, so much so that even most mainstream liberal media types are aghast — but not the Journolists, MNSBC and the Democratic leadership. No, they have seized on Citizens United to claim that what the IRS did was a good thing, they just should have done it to everyone.
The Citizens United decision has been distorted by Democrats, as Dan Abrams wrote, The Media’s Shameful, Inexcusable Distortion Of The Supreme Court’s Citizens United Decision:
There are two media myths and inventions that are most commonly cited.
Myth 1: The Court invalidated disclosure requirements in political advertising, thereby allowing donors to remain anonymous.
Wrong. The Court ruled just the opposite and upheld, by an 8-1 vote, the McCain-Feingold requirement of identifying donors.
Myth 2: That the Court’s ruling in Citizens United opened the door to wealthy individuals like Sheldon Adelson to pour millions of dollars into PACs.
Wrong again. The Citizens United ruling had NOTHING to do with the ability of individuals to spend their money to support candidates. That had been decided back in 1976, when the Supreme Court decided that the First Amendment protected the right of individuals to make unlimited independent expenditures supporting or opposing candidates for federal office. In Citizens United, the Court ruled that corporations and unions were entitled to the same rights. It wasn’t that long ago, after all, that the Swift Boat ads, legally paid for by individuals, soiled John Kerry during the 2004 campaign.
But reading the New York Times, Washington Post and watching MSNBC in particular, it is hardly surprising that the public would be confused.
Ezra Klein gave life to the “Citizens United made the IRS do it” meme, Wonkbook: The good reasons for the IRS’s dumb mistake:
Let’s try to keep two things in mind simultaneously: The IRS does need some kind of test that helps them weed out political organizations attempting to register as tax-exempt 501(c)4 social welfare groups. But that test has to be studiously, unquestionably neutral….
The context for all this is that after Citizens United and some related decisions, the number of groups registering as 501(c)4s doubled. Because the timing of that doubling coincided with a rise in political activism on the right rather than the left, a lot of the politicized groups attempting to register as 501(c)4s were describing their purpose in tea party terms. A popular conceit, for instance, was that they existed to educate on the Constitution — even if the particular pedagogical method meant participating in Republican Party primaries and pressuring incumbent politicians.
This supposed IRS motive simply to address problems created by Citizens United is invented out of whole cloth. What we know so far is that the IRS targeted groups based on political leaning, then covered it up until it could not be covered up any longer. There was nothing pure about it.
(added) The lie is put to the supposed IRS pure motive by the fact that the big spending 501(c)(4) organizations were not subject to abusive scrutiny, it was the smaller Tea Party groups, as reported by the NY Times:
During the same period, the agency singled out dozens of Tea Party-inspired groups that had applied for I.R.S. recognition, officials acknowledged on Friday, subjecting them to rounds of detailed questioning about their political activities. None of those groups were big spenders on political advertising; most were local Tea Party organizations with shoestring budgets.
Yet Nancy Pelosi is just about everywhere injecting Citizens United into the IRS scandal issue:
But some Democrats took the opposite lesson from the revelations about the IRS.
“There needs to be more clarity in the law regarding the activities of tax exempt organizations along with greater disclosure and transparency. We must overturn Citizens United, which has exacerbated the challenges posed by some of these so-called ‘social welfare’ organizations,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement.
Chris Hayes on MSNBC focused his show last night on this argument:
Pelosi appeared later on in the show to continue the Citizens United line:
We need accountability at the IRS, of course, as to how this happened. But we’ve really got to overturn Citizens United which has exacerbated the situation. So I’ve called for DISCLOSE, that’s a dare, disclose… I’ve been calling for it for over a year, disclose, who are these people? Transparency, amend the constitution to overturn Citizens United, reform the political system, let’s take money down as far as possible. Public financing of campaigns, clean campaigns and empowerment of people because people feel very left out of the loop. But I do think that some scrutiny has to be placed on what these 501(c)(4)s are.
Lawrence O’Donnell is on it:
Time magazine (yes, it still exists) is riding shotgun, The Real IRS Scandal:
The problem isn’t that the IRS flagged nonprofit groups for additional review. The problem is that it did so poorly, lavishing special attention on Tea Party outfits when it should have been scrutinizing everyone — or at least more egregious offenders.
This is easier said than done. After the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in January 2010, donors flocked to 501(c)(4)s as a vehicle to pump cash into elections without disclosing the source of their contributions.
My goodness, these people really are pathetic.
The IRS was compromised by political concerns, it targeted people based on political views, it covered it up, it leaked documents from the same office only regarding those same political affiliations … and all they can do is shout, Look, Citizens United!
I asked the question yesterday, How do you ask a journalist to be the last journalist to lose credibility defending Obama?
Ezra Klein, Chris Hayes, Lawrence O’Donnell and others all want to be last.DONATE
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