By Bradley A. Smith
It’s been over six months since the IRS inspector general’s report was released, revealing that the agency had improperly targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny by withholding approval of what have traditionally been routine applications for organizations to operate as social-welfare organizations under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code.
Despite assurances that both the FBI and the IRS were conducting investigations of the wrongdoing, many of the conservative groups that were targeted complain that they have yet to hear from anyone in the government. Meanwhile, dozens of conservative groups still are waiting on IRS approval, and the National Organization for Marriage waits for any sign that Eric Holder’s Department of Justice plans to prosecute the IRS employee who leaked its confidential tax data to NOM’s political enemies. Instead, Justice sits idly by as the IRS protects his identity.
But the IRS has not been completely inactive. Just before heading off for the Thanksgiving holiday, the agency dumped a proposed rule into the Federal Register that, if enacted in its current form, would place further restrictions on the political activity of citizen groups, including nonpartisan voter-registration efforts, “meet the candidate” nights and debates, and communications aimed at informing citizens about pending legislation in Congress and the states. It appears, frankly, to be an effort to institutionalize political discrimination in the tax code.