Barack Obama’s Internal Revenue Service was caught this year targeting conservative groups with harassment that included invasive probes into the content of prayers and unwarranted delays.
That issue is being worked out in court. But the IRS, nevertheless, remains on the attack, proposing new regulations that would silence the president’s critics.
Mathew Staver, founder and chief counsel of Liberty Counsel, said that after “being caught intentionally targeting conservative groups in the prior two elections, now the president wants his IRS to totally silence the voices of his political adversaries.”
New rules proposed in the Federal Register, Staver said, are “designed to silence and greatly restrict the activities of Liberty Counsel Action and other 501 (c) 4 nonprofit organizations during the upcoming election year.”
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In the shadow of the scandal over the targeting of Tea Party and other conservative groups, the Internal Revenue on Tuesday announced new regulations curbing the political activity of tax-exempt groups.
The new restrictions would prohibit such groups from backing candidates, making political pronouncements 60 days before an election and participating in get-out-the-vote drives.
Advocates for conservative organizations litigating against the IRS’ scrutiny say the new rules are an attack on free speech.
“It is never a positive when the government gets involved in regulating political speech,” Cleta Mitchell, a Washington-based attorney, told TheBlaze. “Remember the first five words of the First Amendment: ‘Congress shall make no law.’”
Mitchell is representing True the Vote and other conservative groups suing the IRS over targeting, which the agency has admitted to.
Mitchell said the rules should be more narrow and defined.
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As Congress investigates the Internal Revenue Service for targeting and badgering conservative groups seeking tax-status designations, and even attacking conservative groups that already had their status letters, Americans can be confident such activity has halted, right?
A new report from the Thomas More Society reveals that the organization has submitted additional information to U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., who is on the House Committee on Ways and Means, detailing continuing targeting by the IRS.
The organization’s report, updated Thursday, explains its first legal memorandum was submitted on May 16, 2013, reporting “salient details of several legal cases handled by Thomas More Society which indicate that the harassment of ‘conservative’ non-profit organizations by the Internal Revenue Service … extends will beyond ‘tea party’ and ‘patriot’ groups and includes ‘pro-life’ or ‘anti-abortion’ groups…”
“Since the IRS scandal became public, Thomas More Society has been contacted by numerous other groups seeking legal counsel relating to IRS harassment. This supplemental memorandum addresses three (3) new matters which provide further evidence of illegal, unconstitutional, viewpoint-based IRS harassment of pro-life organizations.”
Explained the legal team, “These new cases also illustrate that harassment has been continuing through the present date. The Society is even now responding to IRS inquiries addressed to its client, Emerald Coast Coalition for Life, which go far beyond the IRS’ purview, and which have delayed issuance of its tax exemption.”
Evidence already has documented that the IRS has inquired of some conservative and Christian organizations about the content of their prayers, and has tried to extract promises regarding support for abortion.
The organization said it has produced more than 250 pages of documentation showing that the federal government still interrogates pro-life groups “beyond the scope of its legal authority, infringing upon these organizations’ First Amendment rights of assembly, free speech and religious liberty.”
“Despite claims to the contrary, the IRS continues to target and harass pro-life and conservative charities, illegally questioning their religious activities and withholding their tax exemptions,” said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel of the Thomas More Society. “We have now produced irrefutable evidence of six clients whose First Amendment rights were trampled upon by the IRS because of their position upholding the sanctity of life. Even after public disclosure of this wrongdoing, the Obama administration’s IRS has refused to cease its illegal activity. We will continue to aid Congress in its investigation until those responsible are brought to justice and the IRS is made to respect every American’s constitutional rights.”
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Frustrated Republican leaders in Congress levied harsh criticisms against the IRS and the White House for obstructing their investigation into targeting of conservative groups and issued a sweeping subpoena Friday to compel the administration to deliver emails about the scandal.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee issued a broad subpoena Friday to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew that demands all e-mail communications between the IRS and the White House from February 2010 to the present.
“During the past two weeks, President Obama and you have repeatedly labeled the IRS’s strategy of targeting Americans for their political beliefs as a ‘phony’ scandal,” Oversight committee chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said in a letter to Lew. “While the Obama Administration has so publicly deflected responsibility for the targeting, it simultaneously has attempted to thwart congressional oversight into the matter.”
Issa continued, saying the IRS “has engaged in a systematic effort to delay, frustrate, impede, and obstruct the Committee’s investigation.”
The committee has subpoenaed “all communications sent by IRS employees to an e-mail address with the domain ‘who.eop.gov’ from February 1, 2010 to August 2, 2013.” That is the domain for employees of the White House Executive Office of the President. Further, the committee is compelling the release of “All communications received by IRS employees from an e-mail address with the domain name ‘who.eop.gov’” for the same period.
The committee is further compelling the Treasury Department to produce all communications to and from Lois Lerner, the former IRS Exempt Organizations chief now on paid leave, from Jan. 1, 2009 through Aug. 2, 2013. Lerner announced that targeting had occurred in May, preempting the release of an inspector general’s report. But Lerner blamed it on “rogue employees” in the Cincinnati IRS office.
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Lois Lerner, the controversial director of the tax-exempt organizations division at the Internal Revenue Service, has a long sordid history of targeting conservatives.
Under the direction of Lois Lerner, the Federal Election Commission sued the Christian Coalition in the 1990s. She harassed the Christian Coalition for three election cycles. Eventually, she lost her case. At one point Lerner even asked a targeted conservative if Pat Robertson prayed over him. (Sound familiar?)
n 1996, while at the FEC, Lois Lerner harassed Republican Senate candidate Al Salvi and made him this outrageous offer, “Promise me you will never run for office again, and we’ll drop this case.” One of Lerner’s minions even asked Salvi to fork over $200,000 with his promise not to run again.
In May Lois Lerner refused to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. She pleaded the Fifth.
E-mails Suggest Collusion Between FEC, IRS to Target Conservative Groups Documentation suggests that Lois Lerner and the IRS unlawfully shared confidential tax information with the FEC.
Today Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany Jr., M.D. (R-LA) sent a letter to IRS chief Danny Werfel demanding communications between the IRS and FEC from 2008 to 2012. The GOP leaders accuse the IRS of colluding with the FEC against conservatives.
From the Ways and Means Committee webpage:
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