Daily Media Links 7/30: After Public Outcry, IRS To ‘Reconsider’ Its Attempt To Police Non-Profit Speech, Ensuring that Targeting Never Happens Again, and more…

In the News

Forbes: After Public Outcry, IRS To ‘Reconsider’ Its Attempt To Police Non-Profit Speech

By Luke Wachob

Citizens and organizations alike noted that the proposed rule would shut down a number of common, non-partisan functions that non-profits perform to promote social welfare. For example, the rule would reclassify voter registration drives, get-out-the-vote drives, meet-the-candidate forums, grassroots lobbying of elected officials and candidates, and the production of nonpartisan voter guides as “candidate-related political activity.” Once placed under that label, those activities would become subject to limits on political activity.

Organizing voter registration drives, grassroots lobbying, and hosting candidate debates are a far cry from partisan campaigning. By reclassifying what counts as political activity, the rule would underhandedly force 501(c)(4) groups to abandon or cut back a tremendous amount of their operations under the guise of providing “clarity” in the (c)(4) application process.

The IRS’s proposed solution to its abusive targeting of conservative 501(c)(4) groups is simply to formalize that mistreatment by stifling the activities of all (c)(4) organizations. As House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) observed, “The new regulation so closely mirrors the abused tea-party group applications, it leads me to question if this new proposed regulation is simply another form of targeting.”

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Hearing: IRS Abuses: Ensuring that Targeting Never Happens Again (Event)

On July 30th the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is holding a hearing titled, “IRS Abuses: Ensuring that Targeting Never Happens Again.”  The hearing, which will look into the ways reforms will help prevent future IRS targeting of people and organizations based on their political beliefs, features Center for Competitive Politics President David Keating, super-lawyer Cleta Mitchell, as well as the Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk and Hans A. von Spakovsky.  

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First Amendment

Wall Street Journal: Texas Speech Shootout


Governor Rick Perry rightly vetoed the bill, citing its “chilling effect” on speech that would undermine “our democratic political process.” So the Ethics Commission, the state’s campaign-finance regulator, decided to restrict speech on its own with no legal basis.

At the request of legislators, the Ethics Commission is reinterpreting the existing state election code to target issue-oriented groups that also take part in elections in any way, even if such campaign advocacy is a sideline to their primary mission. Under the proposed new rules, these groups must register with the state, hire campaign accountants and attorneys, and file and disclose detailed reports on contributors, spending and their beneficiaries. Violations are a criminal offense.

The Texas Home School Coalition Association argues that this attempt to burden speech is unconstitutional. The nonprofit mainly supports non-state education through parental seminars, legal aid and the like. But the association devotes about 9% of its budget in election years to producing a voter guide, promoting endorsements of candidates who support its values, and advertising its policy positions on matters of public concern at the ballot box.

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Wall Street Journal: GOP Report Floats IRS Changes on Tax-Exempt Group Oversight

By John D. McKinnon

Perhaps the most eye-catching of the ideas in the report: eliminating the IRS commissioner job. Republicans say the commissioner structure has provided insufficient oversight of the agency at a time when its workload has been expanding rapidly.

Instead, lawmakers said, Congress should turn the IRS over to a bipartisan commission, like the ones that runs some regulatory agencies.

Another idea calls for an end to IRS rules governing political speech by the kinds of tax-exempt groups that were involved in the targeting scandal.

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Independent Groups

NY Times: Spending Big to Fight Big Donors in Campaigns

By Nicolas Confessore

An unlikely alliance of liberal intellectuals, big donors and Republican strategists has hit on a solution to the influence of big money in politics: even more money.  

Note: The word “hypocrisy” is not present in this article.

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Roll Call: Bill Maher Flip a District Contest: Ellmers in Final Four

Bill Maher’s attempt to oust a Republican member of Congress is nearing its final stage, with the liberal comedian announcing July 25 on his HBO show that Renee Ellmers of North Carolina has made it to the final four of his viewer-driven “Flip a District” contest.  

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Kochs Obsession

The Hill: Dem super-PAC hits Ernst for Koch ties

By Cameron Joseph

“Out-of-state oil billionaires, the Koch brothers, are spending millions supporting Joni Ernst’s campaign. Why? Because Joni Ernst shares their priorities: A scheme privatizing Social Security and a plan cutting Medicare’s guaranteed benefit all to pay for more tax breaks for oil billionaires,” the ad’s narrator says. “If Joni Ernst’s got their back, we can’t trust her to protect ours.” 

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Candidates, Politicians, Campaigns, and Parties

Huffington Post: Leaked Memo Tells Senate Candidate To Spend 80 Percent Of Her Time Raising Money

By Paul Blumenthal

“Hitting our targets will require us to prioritize fundraising above all else and to focus the candidate’s time on it with relentless intensity,” the memo, written in December 2013 and leaked to National Review, states in a section on the campaign’s finance plan.

To reach the campaign’s target of raising $15 million to $20 million for the entire race, the memo urges that Nunn’s time be budgeted almost exclusively for fundraising, at least until the tail end of the race. Nunn, who would face no serious competition in the Democratic primary, should spend between 70 and 80 percent of her time raising money from January through September, according to the memo. Only in October does the recommended fundraising time drop to 50 percent.

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Politico: Halper book: Clintons lobbied GE to get rid of MSNBC’s David Shuster

By Hadas Gold

In the book, Halper notes that Clinton Communications Director Howard Wolfson also purposely didn’t connect Shuster to the Clintons when he wanted to personally apologize, instead telling him to email Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Wolfson then went to the press and said Shuster was refusing to apologize.

The Clinton campaign, Halper writes, “wanted to make it look like men, such as David Shuster, were beating up on the woman who could be the first female president of the U.S.”

Shuster ended up being suspended for two weeks.

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State and Local

California –– KQED: 2012 Campaign Cash Scandal Ends With PAC’s Shutdown

By John Myers

In a quiet ending to one of the most high-profile campaign money controversies in California history, the political action committee reprimanded for accepting $11 million from mystery donors in 2012 has closed its doors.  

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