Opinion

Charles Schumer: Supreme Court ruling makes IRS less intimidating to Tea Party donors

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Joel Gehrke,Tea Party,IRS,Chuck Schumer,Cleta Mitchell

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., argued Wednesday that the Supreme Court's latest campaign finance decision makes the threat of an IRS investigation into 501(c)(4) groups less of a deterrent to Tea Party donors.

Schumer discussed "the damage" of the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission ruling -- in which the court ruled that individuals can donate to as many candidates as they like, as long as they respect the limits imposed on how much they can give to those candidates -- during a press briefing at the Capitol.

"Let's say you're a person who doesn't believe in undisclosed money; let's say you're a person who doesn't want to go to a 501(c)(4) because you're worried maybe there'll be an IRS investigation sometime down the road," Schumer told reporters. "You can write one check to a joint committee of 232 House members and give them each the maximum."

There are 233 Republicans in the House of Representatives.

Schumer made clear he is thinking of Tea Party donors in particular who can now feel free to donate more money to politicians.

"How does the Tea Party have such power? Some of it is that they dominate some of the Republican primaries, but much of it is they have 20 people and they can call them up and push a button and say put this money in," Schumer said. "A small number of people who really want to paralyze the government are just being given such huge disproportionate weight, but the average citizen who doesn't follow it in detail says 'government just doesn't work' and that is terrible for our democracy."

Cleta Mitchell, a campaign finance lawyer who has worked on behalf of Tea Party groups probed by the IRS, said that the comments prove that Democrats want the IRS to stop their political opponents.

"These things should be totally unrelated, had the IRS not put itself in the position of doing the bidding of people like Chuck Schumer," Mitchell told the Washington Examiner.

"It's just further evidence, in my opinion, of ... how the IRS is carrying out the directives of the Democrats in Congress and the White House, that the IRS has just become the enforcer for the Democrats, and that [Schumer] feels perfectly comfortable conflating campaign finance and political activity with something that the IRS is going to do to intimidate donors," Mitchell said.

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