Thursday, December 19, 2013

The IRS Nightmare Before Christmas

Overlooked fallout from the Democrats breaking hundreds of years of Senate tradition and destroying the rights of the minority over judicial extremist nominees by invoking the nuclear option are zombie agencies coming alive and other controversial nominees pushed through quickly.  On the latter is the nominee for IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. 

If there ever was a time to work together in a bipartisan fashion over a nominee; it is now over the next person to be IRS Commissioner.  In light of the unprecedented and illegal intimidation tactics of the left against conservative groups, the next IRS Commissioner should receive special scrutiny.  Instead Harry Reid is likely going to push ahead with Koskinen’s nomination. 

Why is this so important?  Koskinen will be overseeing the latest attempt by the IRS to chill and silence the speech of those it does not like.  As Hans von Spakovsky writes:

As if the indefensible attack on Tea Party and other conservative organizations documented by the IRS Inspector General wasn’t enough, the IRS is now proposing new regulations that would further restrict the activity of these organizations and give IRS officials even more power to intimidate – sorry, regulate – them. This is, of course, the exact opposite of what should be done to reverse the politicized targeting that IRS bureaucrats have been engaged in.

The proposed regulation would redefine what the IRS considers “candidate-related political activity” for §501(c)(4) organizations.  It is a thinly veiled attempt to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United by executive fiat, after the administration failed in a similar attempt when it couldn’t get the DISCLOSE Act  passed by Congress.  The regulation would seriously infringe the First Amendment rights of advocacy organizations.

. . . Finally, the proposed regulation very unsubtly tries to impose a new rule that the Supreme Court already found unconstitutional in Citizens United v. FEC.  One issue in that case was a federal campaign finance rule that prohibited labor unions and corporations – both profit and nonprofit – from running any broadcast ad that “refers to a clearly identified” federal candidate within 30 days of a federal primary or 60 days of the general election.  The problem with this provision was that it banned pure grassroots lobbying ads that had nothing to do with an election.

. . . Yet the IRS is proposing to implement the exact same language the Supreme Court found unconstitutional.  It defines as “candidate-related political activity” a communication “within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election that refers to one or more clearly identified candidates.”

The fears of conservatives and those who value free speech continued to be justified.  Harry Reid ramming through a nominee to oversee more partisanship and restriction of speech at the IRS is only going to make matters worse.  

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