Daily Media Links 1/31: Fox: McConnell Discusses Obama Admin’s Attempts Silence Criticism Through IRS Rules, Wall Street Journal: Enemies of Friends of Abe, Newsmax: Dershowitz, Law Enforcement Experts Slam D’Souza Targeting, and more…

Independent Groups

Fox: McConnell Discusses Obama Admin’s Attempts Silence Criticism Through IRS Rules 

Sen. McConnell talks with Megyn Kelly about the Obama administration’s new IRS rules that are designed to silence conservative groups criticizing the president. 

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Senate: McConnell Calls on IRS Commissioner to Resist Obama Administration Efforts to Muzzle Free Speech

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the Obama Administration’s efforts to use the IRS to muzzle free speech. 

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Senator McConnell: McConnell Calls on IRS Commissioner to Resist Obama Administration Efforts to Muzzle Free Speech 

“But this morning, I’d like to take a moment to address something else the President didn’t address on Tuesday, but that his administration is already quietly planning to do in the months ahead.

“I’m referring to the administration’s radical new proposal to codify the same kind of targeting of grass-roots groups that an independent Inspector General determined the IRS had engaged in in the run-up to the 2012 election.

“Now, I realize it just doesn’t seem possible to a lot of people that the Obama administration would even think of touching an issue this radioactive after last year’s scandal. But those who think that underestimate the extent to which this administration and its allies are willing to go to keep those who disagree with them from speaking out and participating in the political process. They underestimate the extent to which they’re willing to go to hold onto power. And they forget how speech is usually stifled.

“James Madison once wrote, quote, ‘I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.’ And that’s just what’s going on here.

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Wall Street Journal: Enemies of Friends of Abe 

By James Taranto

These days “IRS Targets Conservative Group” is a dog-bites-man story. But this one was man-bites-dog by virtue of its placement: on the front page of the New York Times, a newspaper that is usually supportive of this administration’s efforts to suppress domestic dissent. Put it down to a sudden outbreak of news judgment.

The news value to the Times may lie more in the nature of the organization than its trouble with the IRS. “In a famously left-leaning Hollywood, where Democratic fund-raisers fill the social calendar, Friends of Abe stands out as a conservative group that bucks the prevailing political winds,” reads the lead paragraph.

But Friends of Abe–as in Lincoln–has sought nonprofit status under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Tax Code, which would allow it to collect tax-deductible contributions. The IRS has been reviewing the application for some two years, seeking information about meetings where politicians spoke. A 501(c)(3) is prohibited from engaging in campaign activity, such as hosting a fundraiser, but as the Times notes, “tax-exempt groups are permitted to invite candidates to speak at events.”

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Newsmax: Dershowitz, Law Enforcement Experts Slam D’Souza Targeting 

By Jennifer G. Hickey and John Gizzi

“This sounds to me like it is coming from higher places. It is hard for me to believe this did not come out of Washington or at least get the approval of those in Washington.”

Others share Dershowitz’s suspicions. Joseph diGenova, a former U.S. Attorney and partner at the law firm diGenova & Toensing, says it is not surprising that criminal charges were brought because the Justice Department has been actively prosecuting campaign finance violations.

“But what strikes me as unusual is that it involves a single donation made by an individual with no criminal record. It seems to me that a misdemeanor makes much more sense than a felony charge,” diGenova told Newsmax.

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Mother Jones: How Democrats Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Citizens United 

By Andy Kroll

When a subsequent court decision, nodding to Citizens United, opened the door to super-PACs, a new breed of political committee that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash, Obama branded them “a threat to our democracy.”

The Obama of 2010 might not recognize the Democratic Party of 2014.  

In the intervening years, Obama and his fellow Democrats embraced big-money politics. Democrats formed super-PACs to defend the presidency, gain seats in the House of Representatives, and preserve their majority in the Senate. Obama is the first president in history to utilize a tax-exempt 501(c)(4) group, which can accept unlimited sums from anonymous donors, to promote his policy agenda. (Organizing for Action, the president’s nonprofit, chose to voluntarily disclose its 2013 donors.) And with an eye toward the 2016 presidential race, Democratic operatives have gone to work for various super-PACs mounting a campaign-in-waiting for presumed front-runner Hillary Clinton. If Democrats hate Citizens United on paper, they love it in practice.

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Disclosure

Nerd Wallet: Places with the Highest Rates of Political Giving

By Sreekar Jasthi

There are more than nine months to go before the 2014 U.S. midterm elections take place, but campaign season has already begun—and is about to hit full swing. All 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives will be contested, along with 33 of the 100 seats in the Senate, 38 governorships and many state and local positions.

Using campaign contributions data from the Center for Responsive Politics, we ranked the top ten places among the U.S.’s 50 largest metropolitan areas according to per capita contribution rates. The donation totals mentioned below include individual contributions of $200 or more to federal candidates, parties and Political Action Committees (PACs) for the 2014 midterm election year.

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Tax Financing

The Hill: Convention wipeout coming soon? 

By Molly K. Hooper

This could be the year that Congress bans taxpayer money to pay for presidential political conventions.

Public money for the four-day partisan shindigs has long been a political bull’s-eye. But effort after effort has fallen short even as criticism of the party-heavy gatherings has increased.

Now, that streak could end. Bipartisan legislation targeting political convention money has passed the Republican-led House and is being championed in the upper chamber by Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.), a former Democratic National Committee chairman who is close to President Obama.

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Candidates, Politicians, Campaigns, and Parties

 

Politico: Democrats: Cede the House to save the Senate   

By Alex Isenstadt

With Democrats’ grasp on the Senate increasingly tenuous — and the House all but beyond reach — some top party donors and strategists are moving to do something in the midterm election as painful as it is coldblooded: Admit the House can’t be won and go all in to save the Senate.

Their calculation is uncomplicated. With only so much money to go around in an election year that is tilting the GOP’s way, Democrats need to concentrate resources on preserving the chamber they have now. Losing the Senate, they know, could doom whatever hopes Barack Obama has of salvaging the final years of his presidency.

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The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.