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Opinion: Morning Examiner

Morning Examiner: IRS rejection of one liberal group doesn't make it OK to harass 200 Tea Party outfits

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Mark Tapscott,Morning Examiner,Tea Party,Campaign Finance,IRS,Cleta Mitchell

Ever hear of Arkansans for Common Sense? Probably not, since it was formed to boost former Sen. Blanche Lincoln's re-election campaign in 2010. But you will hear about it in the days ahead.

"Ahead of Lincoln's contentious 2010 primary battle against fellow Democrat Bill Halter, Arkansans for Common Sense spent $192,000 on advertisements urging voters to support Lincoln. After Halter forced Lincoln into a runoff, the group launched a $446,000 negative ad blitz against him," according to Michael Beckel of the Center for Public Integrity.

"Those expenditures — which were reported to the Federal Election Commission because they expressly advocated for Lincoln’s election or Halter’s defeat — constituted 49.5 percent of Arkansans for Common Sense’s total $1.3 million in spending in 2012, according to the group’s 2010 tax return," Beckel said.

The IRS said no

In a March 19, 2014, final determination letter, the Internal Revenue Service rejected the group's application for 501(C)(4) tax-exempt status, saying, “you are not primarily operated for the promotion of social welfare of the people of the community because your primary activities are the participation in a political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate for public office.”

The group had received a preliminary rejection letter in 2013, according to Beckel, just three days before former IRS senior executive Lois Lerner admitted the federal tax agency had been targeting Tea Party and conservative applicants for the same tax exempt status during the 2010 and 2012 campaigns.

That is significant because, according to Beckel, it shows "the Internal Revenue Service wasn’t just targeting tea party organizations and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status."

Apples and ... cackleberries?

Expect to hear that argument frequently in the days ahead as liberals try to counter the mountain of evidence that the IRS specifically targeted President Obama's critics for harassment during much of his first term in the Oval Office.

To be sure, Arkansans for Common Sense spent considerably more on advocating Lincoln's re-election than 501(C)(4) groups are allowed to do under longstanding IRS regulations.

But a lawyer representing Tea Party groups targeted by the IRS told Morning Examiner that her clients aren't remotely comparable to Arkansans for Common Sense in terms of political spending.

"Tea Party Patriots for instance — zero political expenditures. True the Vote — zero — as a (C)(3), it can't make any political expenditures. King Street Patriots — zero political expenditures," said Washington attorney Cleta Mitchell.

"The vast majority of the Tea Party groups have or had tiny budgets and made NO political expenditures at all. And if they did, it was small fraction of the total and was not for TV or radio," Mitchell said.

Still, don't be surprised to hear the refrain over and over in the days ahead, even though IRS targeting of any group based on its political views is still illegal.

On today's washingtonexaminer.com

Monday's Editorial: Why some Democrats would like to limit congressional oversight.

Sunday's Editorial: Admit it, greens, renewables cannot power the U.S. economy.

Watchdog/Kelly Cohen: Here's where $14 billion in Medicaid funds went.

Columnists/Hugh Hewitt: Al Qaeda is back in Iraq because Obama and Clinton chose not to block them.

Columnists/James Jay Carafano: Amnesty won't fix the broken U.S. immigration system.

Columnists/Michael Barone: Hispanics sour on Obama as young illegals surge across the border.

Columnists/Star Parker: Lawsuit could free public schools from union shackles.

OpEds/Arthur Herman: Has U.S. fracking doomed Iraq?

OpEds/Red Jahncke: Voters should dismiss governors behind child care worker unions.

Beltway Confidential/Byron York: Patent Office quandary in no to "Redskins," yes to "Crazy Bitch."

Beltway Confidential/Philip Klein: Keep an eye on the Supreme Court this week for important decisions.

PennAve/Susan Ferrechio: House will take up energy production bill this week.

Legal Newsline/Staff writer: New York AG's smartphone kill switch deal making progress.

In other news

The Washington Post: Iraqi army faces "psychological collapse" from desertions.

The New York Times: Iraqi army seen as unlikely to turn the tide.

CBS News: Kerry in Baghdad as ISIS gains more ground.

Righty Playbook

The Weekly Standard: The return of the bad old days.

National Review Online: Iraq's problems go far beyond Shia vs. Sunni.

The American Spectator: The Supreme Court abandons the Second Amendment.

Bonus must-read

The Federalist: When Hell appears to be the creation of other Americans.

Lefty Playbook

The Daily Beast: Drug cartels are behind the border surge.

Salon: Why the Pope's progressive Image is all white smoke and mirrors.

The Progressive Populist: Obama is the true champion of the planet.

Bonus must-read

Mother Jones: How the U.S. government helps McDonald's sell junk food.

Blog Right

Blue Collar Perspective: Convenient tweaking of inconvenient data about climate change.

Powerline: Rand Paul lets Obama off the hook in the Middle East.

The Gateway Pundit: Lerner's computer mysteriously crashed 10 days after House leaders asked about targeting.

Blog Left

Talking Points Memo: GOP begins shifting right after Cantor defeat.

In These Times: How Wal-Mart threatens organic food.

Hullabaloo: Impeachment gets real, dudes.

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