Silencing Critics

It isn’t enough that the Obama administration, and Democrats generally, are so terrified at the Conservative message that the President sicced his IRS on Conservative political entities in an effort to suppress their political speech as it was expressed as financial support for Conservative and Republican candidates in the 2012 elections.

Now they’re attempting to codify that suppression with a new Treasury rule for the IRS regarding what Democrats will permit 501(c)(4) entities to do in the coming elections.

Here is what a 501(c)(4) entity is, according to the Legal Information Institute:

(A) Civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare, or local associations of employees, the membership of which is limited to the employees of a designated person or persons in a particular municipality, and the net earnings of which are devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes.

(B) Subparagraph (A) shall not apply to an entity unless no part of the net earnings of such entity inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.

It’s that educational part that’s important: educating the public about political matters and about where politicians stand on those matters is, well, educational.  It’s just that overt political activity can’t be the predominant activity of a (c)(4) entity.  This is one of the outcomes of the Supremes’ 2010 Citizens United decision regarding the unconstitutional ban of a Hillary Clinton documentary in the runup to the 2008 Democratic Party primaries.

Here are excerpts from Treasury’s new proposed rule for executing that suppression:

1.  Communications

Communications that are made within 60 days of a general election (or within 30 days of a primary election) and clearly identify a candidate or political party.

3.  Activities Closely Related to Elections or Candidates

Holding an event within 60 days of a general election (or within 30 days of a primary election) at which a candidate appears as part of the program.

Treasury and the IRS are planning to issue additional guidance…public focus regarding the proportion of a section 501(c)(4) organization’s activities that must promote social welfare.  Due to the importance of this aspect of the regulation, the proposed guidance requests initial comments on this issue.

This timing of activities, also, was addressed by the Supremes in Citizens United.  Moreover, Treasury is moving to keep their follow-on rule regarding proportionality under the radar until after the 2014 elections, thus leaving the claimed ambiguity in place for further 2012-style IRS suppression of Conservative entities.

Clearly, Treasury is intent on facilitating the IRS’ ability to harass and to outright silence government-disapproved organizations—especially those impertinent enough to disagree with the administration.

All of this is in an election year, no less.

The full text of Treasury’s announcement concerning the rule can be seen via The Washington Post.

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