By Hans von Spakovsky
But the new proposed regulation would make things even worse. It suffers from a crucial defect: the assumption by the IRS that engaging in political speech and political activity do not “promote social welfare.” We live in a society in which an all-too-powerful federal government regulates almost every facet of Americans’ lives, businesses, and property. Membership organizations such as the NRA or NARAL have to participate in the political life of the nation if they want to advance the particular issues their members care about. As former FEC Chairman Brad Smith says, “What kind of democracy claims that political participation is not in the interest of ‘social welfare’?”
Another fundamental mistake with the proposed regulation is its sweeping view of “candidate-related political activity.” This would include nonpartisan voter registration and get-out-the vote drives as well as voter guides and hosting of candidate debates or meet-the-candidate events.
What is partisan about inviting the candidates in a particular election to a debate to discuss their views on the issues of interest to an organization’s members? How is an organization supposed to educate its members if it can’t provide them with a voter guide that lists an officeholder’s votes on bills affecting the particular issues the organization is organized around?