Some groups that claimed to be unfairly targeted by the Internal Revenue Service were engaging in election activities that justified excessive scrutiny, The New York Times reports.
Marcus Owens, former head of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Division, currently at the center of the scandal, told the New York Times that “half of those questions” that the groups said were unfair “have been found to be germane in court decisions.”
The IRS is obligated to determine whether a 501(c )(4) group is primarily promoting social welfare, and while groups are allowed to be involved in some election activity, it cannot be their primary purpose.
But, at least some of the conservative groups that were flagged by the IRS were excessively involved in election activities on behalf of Republicans or against Democrats.
For example, when Combat Veterans for Congress applied for the tax exempt status in 2010, it told the agency the group didn’t plan to spend any money on elections and it would instead be e-mailing veterans about ways in which they “may engage in government” and provide “social welfare programs to assist combat veterans to get involved in government.”
However, later in 2010, the organization spent nearly $8,000 on ads backing Michael Crimmins, a Republican and a former Marine, for a House seat in San Diego, according to Federal Election Commission records. The group did not include the spending as part of its 2010 tax return, and checked “no” when asked if it had engaged in direct or indirect political activities on behalf of a candidate for political office. When the IRS questioned the group in 2012, its lawyer, Dan Backer, called the questions “sweepingly overbroad.” - Read more at The New York Times
IRS SCANDAL SAGA CONTINUES While Congress is out of session this week, congressional staffers are continuing to work behind the scenes, setting up new rounds of hearings to continue probing the IRS next month. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has already asked to interview four new IRS officials and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-MI, wants to bring Lois Lerner back for questioning. Congress has already held three congressional hearings that have led to two resignations so far, and many lawmakers insist that the investigation is only getting started. - Read more at The Hill
WHITE HOUSE GIVES INVESTORS INSIDE INFO ON OBAMACARE Wall Street investors have been getting “political intelligence” from White House officials on information in advance of new provisions that will be implemented under President Obama’s signature health care law. A review of White House records by the Washington Post shows a top health care policy adviser to the president met with executives from a dozen investment firms in 2011 and 2012, including a stock pick with T. Rowe Price Investment Services that managed its $6 billion Health Sciences fund. “The private conversations show that the increasingly urgent race to acquire “political intelligence” goes beyond the communications with congressional staffers that have become the focus of heightened scrutiny in recent weeks,” the Washington Post’s Tom Hamburger writes. - Read more at The Fiscal Times
DOLE: GOP SHOULD “CLOSE FOR REPAIRS” During an interview on “Fox News Sunday” former Republican Senator Bob Dole said the Republican party has moved so far too the right that even President Ronald Reagan would struggle to be embraced by the GOP. “I think they ought to put a sign on the national committee doors that says, ‘closed for repairs’ until New Year’s Day next year. Spend that time going over ideas and positive agendas,” Dole said. - Read more at The Fiscal Times
HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY “To many Americans, Memorial Day represents the unofficial start of summer – a time for barbecues; a family day at the beach, weather permitting; or browsing the sales at stores,” The Fiscal Times’ Yuval Rosenberg writes. “To many others, though, the holiday’s original meaning holds true, as they take time to remember the military men and women who gave their lives for the country.” See the U.S. Census Bureau’s infographic on America’s fallen soldiers here.