IRS gives 'social welfare' status to Karl Rove group

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by LizKat, Feb 9, 2016.

  1. LizKat macrumors 68040

    LizKat

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    According to The Hill today, the IRS gave 501(c)(4) status to Rove's Crossroads GPS group in November. Having to put half its political spending into the loosely defined "social welfare" category is a small price to pay for becoming a tax-exempt dark money faucet for direct donations with the other half. Hear the anonymous roar of "free" speech, baby.

    Excerpt from The Hill piece:

    Republican operative Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS group, which spent tens of millions of dollars on attack ads against President Obama in 2012, has been granted tax-exempt “social welfare” status by the Internal Revenue Service.

    After deliberating for more than five years, the IRS sent a letter to Crossroads GPS in November telling the group that it qualifies under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, allowing it to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money while keeping its donors’ identities secret.

    The only catch is that, under the current vague interpretation of the law, more than half of the group’s spending must be on “social welfare” activities.

    During the 2012 election cycle, Crossroads GPS — a sister organization to the super-PAC American Crossroads, also founded by Rove — technically abided by the “social welfare” requirement, reporting in its tax return that it spent only 39 percent, or $74 million out of its total $189 million, on “direct political activities.”

    And another excerpt:

    Campaign finance reformers are incensed by the decision, which they believe validates politically motivated “dark money” spending on a colossal scale.

    Founded in June 2010, Crossroads GPS was one of the first organizations to emerge from the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which paved the way for largely unregulated “independent” spending in campaigns.

    Fred Wertheimer, the president of campaign finance reform group Democracy 21, described the IRS's decision as "a complete abdication of the agency’s duty to enforce the tax laws.”

    “By no stretch of the imagination can Crossroads GPS be considered a 'social welfare' organization,” Wertheimer said. “It is a political operation — the brainchild of political operative Karl Rove as a means to provide secrecy for donors who want to influence elections.”
     
  2. DUCKofD3ATH Suspended

    DUCKofD3ATH

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    Interesting how Democracy 21 and Fred Wertheimer get most worked up about dark money when it's Republicans in the news. Might be because Democracy 21 gets a nice chunk of change from George Soros--that doesn't pass the smell test, does it?
     
  3. LizKat thread starter macrumors 68040

    LizKat

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    I notice you know Soros' name... who's funding the direct ads for Rove's groups?

    None of it passes the smell test, starting with the idea that speech by corporate proxy has to be protected in the same way for the same reasons that speech by you or by me warrants protection. To hell with Citizens United and the McConnell horse it rode in on. I can't wait for that thing to get overturned or legislated around in some constitutional way, and in the near future too, before ONLY money talks. Sometimes I think we're there already...
     
  4. DUCKofD3ATH Suspended

    DUCKofD3ATH

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    Whoa there! I notice you didn't opine on the fact that Soros is funding a supposedly non-partisan watchdog group like Democracy 21.

    Why should Conservatives and Libertarians care about this issue when it's obviously a politically based hit on the GOP?
     
  5. LizKat thread starter macrumors 68040

    LizKat

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    Maybe it's obvious to you. Wertheimer's worked on campaign finance issues since back in the 70s. It's about the money flows corrupting politics from pre-nomination all the way to passage and judicial interpretation of legislation. I should think anyone of any party could realize it affects everyone in the country when money corrupts democratic process.
     
  6. DUCKofD3ATH Suspended

    DUCKofD3ATH

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    This isn't the first time Democracy 21 has done Soros's bidding. It's quite an interesting story, if you don't mind the Conservative bias (it's an opinion piece), the facts are sound:

    As IRS efforts targeting politically-conservative groups gained momentum, George Soros-funded liberal groups repeatedly called on the IRS to investigate conservative nonprofit organizations.

    While the first reported instances of extra IRS scrutiny for conservative groups began in Cincinnati in March of 2010, the attacks began to pick up steam on a national level soon after Soros-funded groups began firing off letters to the IRS in October of that year - following the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling.

    The talking points of these groups then bounced around a carefully created progressive "echo chamber," until they eventually made their way into established media outlets. Key IRS policy changes about how it investigated conservative groups took place soon after it received three separate letters sent by Soros-funded liberal organizations.

    Several Soros-funded groups including the Campaign Legal Center, Democracy 21, the Center for Public Integrity, Mother Jones and Alternet have worked to pressure the IRS to target conservative nonprofit groups. The subsequent IRS investigation flagged more than 100 tea party-related applications for higher scrutiny, including applications that included the words "Tea Party" and "patriot."

    The IRS scandal can be traced back to a series of letters that the liberal groups Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and Democracy 21 sent to the IRS back in 2010 and 2011. Both groups were funded by George's Soros's Open Society Foundations. The CLC received $677,000 and Democracy 21 got $365,000 from the Soros-backed foundation, according to the Foundation's 990 tax forms.

    The letters specifically targeted conservative Super PACs like Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, asking the IRS to scrutinize them more thoroughly to determine whether or not they should retain their tax-exempt status.

    On Oct. 5, 2010, when the first letter was sent to the IRS, calling specifically for the agency to "investigate" Crossroads GPS. The letter claimed Crossroads was "impermissibly using its tax status to spend tens of millions of dollars in the 2010 congressional races while hiding the donors funding these expenditures from the American people." Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer wrote a blog post for the liberal Huffington Post to promote it, and the effort to get the media to notice the anti-conservative campaign began.

    On June 27, 2011, a second letter by the CLC and Democracy 21 complained about enforcement of 501(c)(4) tax regulations, asking "that the IRS issue new regulations that better enforce the law." Two days later, an IRS senior agency official was briefed on a new policy targeting groups which "criticize how the country is being run," according to a Washington Post story. According to the Post, this policy was later revised.

    A third letter by the CLC and Democracy 21, on Sept 28, 2011, got media traction. The letter showed the escalation of the left's complaint about 501(c)(4) groups. It challenged "the eligibility of four organizations engaged in campaign activity to be treated as 501(c)(4) tax exempt organizations." The four organizations included Crossroads GPS, Priorities USA, American Action Network and Americans Elect.

    The Soros-funded Center for Public Integrity ($2,716,328) published a "study" on 501(c)(4) groups, on October 31, which drew heavily from, and referenced, the CLC and Democracy 21. The Center for Public Integrity has strong media connections and boasts an advisory board that includes Ben Sherwood, president of ABC News, and Michele Norris, an NPR host, as well as a board of directors with such prominent names as Huffington Post CEO Arianna Huffington, Steve Kroft of CBS News's "60 Minutes" and Craig Newmark (founder of Craigslist).

    This study then led to a Mother Jones article about a month later, on November 18, which was reposted on the left-wing blog Alternet on November 21. By December of 2011, the topic had been picked up in a New York Times editorial, and then began receiving other media coverage. That editorial called for "the Internal Revenue Service to crack down on the secret political money already flooding the 2012 campaign from partisan operatives ludicrously claiming to be 'social welfare' activists."

    On Jan. 15, 2012, the IRS targeted groups focused on limiting government or educating people about the Constitution and Bill of Rights

    Alternet and Mother Jones are both members of The Media Consortium, which is designed to do exactly what happened here. The Media Consortium was created to be a progressive "echo chamber," where 63 separate left-wing media outlets can network and share ideas, as well as cross-promote stories. Other members of the Consortium include such liberal outlets as The Nation, Democracy Now! and The American Prospect. The consortium has also received $675,000 in Soros funds since 2000. Alternet ($285,000) and Mother Jones ($485,000) have both also received individual funding from Soros's Open Society Foundations.

    This isn't the only time the IRS has targeted conservative groups recently, nor is it the only connection between the IRS and Soros-funded groups. The IRS gave the left-wing journalism site ProPublica the applications for nine conservative groups pending tax-exempt status.

    The IRS also released the confidential donor lists of the National Organization for Marriage to the liberal Human Rights Campaign. Both the Human Rights Campaign ($2,716,328) and ProPublica ($300,000) are also Soros-funded. Despite its blatant liberal leanings, ProPublica boasts a staff of well-known journalists, including veterans of The New York Times and The Wall Street journal, as well as of liberal operations like the Center for American Progress and The Nation, and has even won two Pulitzer Prizes.
    Sorry about the quote length, Safari's bug is acting up that causes the cursor to jump to the bottom of the window when I try to select text.
     
  7. LizKat thread starter macrumors 68040

    LizKat

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    I'm familiar w/ the pieces about the IRS having set aside Tea Party applications for special scrutiny, one would have to have lived in a cave not to have read something about it.

    In my humble opinion, the IRS should scrutinize ALL requests for tax exemptions for "social welfare" entities, I don't care if they're for an agricultural safety-education organization or the Church of Dave's Literacy Outreach. When tax exemption is applied, somewhere some governmental appropriation ends up in shortfall. But if the IRS clerks don't scrutinize all exemption requests, then obviously they shouldn't just do SOME GROUPS of applications with great diligence while just giving a face-value glance and an OK stamp to the rest.

    But my point remains why would libertarians and conservatives not care about the issue of dark money poured into campaigns? If those of us who as individuals don't have millions to blow on political "free speech" and when we do make contributions, they're recorded and the info is publicly available, why should the fat cats (whatever their political persuasion) be permitted to donate anonymously to direct political for-a-candidate ads that cost millions on millions in the course of a campaign?

    Also and possibly because I'm a leftie, I don't have a problem with Soros funding groups like Pro Publica. It's not like that outfit is a bunch of sleazeballs inventing factoids. They're people with integrity and high journalistic skill I do have a problem with the IRS giving copies of the tax exempt applications from conservative outfits to Pro Publica, however. That's not right. But that's not on Pro Publica or Soros either. It's on the IRS.
     

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