Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., asked several private organizations to acknowledge publicly their support for a conservative non-profit group, setting the stage for political targeting of individuals by the IRS or other government agencies, according to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
Cruz said that the organizations should ignore Durbin’s letter. “While Senator Durbin is free to make any inquiry he likes, in my view this effort represents an inappropriate governmental intrusion into the personal and political views of American citizens and businesses,” the Senate freshman said in a statement.
“In light of the current IRS targeting scandal, this action raises concerns about retaliation against those who may disagree with the Chairman and the Obama Administration,” he added.
Durbin, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, scheduled a hearing for next month to investigate state Stand Your Ground laws and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the group that drafted model legislation that was used by several state legislatures.
“Although ALEC does not maintain a public list of corporate members or donors, other public documents indicate that your company funded ALEC at some point during the period between ALEC’s adoption of model ‘stand your ground’ legislation in 2005 and the present day,” Durbin wrote in the letter, per Roll Call. “I am seeking clarification whether companies that have funded ALEC’s operations in the past currently support ALEC and the model ‘stand your ground’ legislation.”
The Goldwater Institute compared Durbin to Joe McCarthy and refused to answer the question. “[Y]our inquisition is an outrage,” president Darcy Olsen wrote in a blog post directed at the senator. “We refuse to answer because as free Americans, that is our right. Your attempt to silence your fellow Americans through threats and intimidation because they don’t share identical political beliefs is disgraceful and not worthy of the title you hold.”