IRS targets Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty

The Internal Revenue Service is still targeting conservative and liberty-minded groups, nearly a year after now-disgraced agency official Lois Lerner admitted to the inappropriate scrutiny.

In an email on Thursday, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) told supporters that Campaign for Liberty is now under fire from the IRS. The powerful tax agency, he says, has just hit the liberty-minded nonprofit with “a hefty fine” and “demanded” that it “turn over sensitive contributor information.”

“This is one of the toughest letters I’ve ever had to send,” Paul wrote to supporters. “For years, people have joked that the three most feared letters in the English language may well be these … I – R – S.”

“But today, I’m not laughing,” said Paul. “Just days ago, the IRS handed Campaign for Liberty a hefty fine and DEMANDED we turn over sensitive contributor information.”

Paul explained that failure to comply with the IRS’s demands could mean additional fines that could severely impact the work that Campaign for Liberty is doing and possibly force the group to shut down.

Because Campaign for Liberty is a 501(c)(4), donor information is supposed to be confidential. The organization, like many others targeted by the IRS, promotes economic and individual liberty and focuses its efforts on grassroots activism and education. It does not endorse candidates, in which case the organization would have to disclose

Proposed IRS tax-exempt guidance undermines free speech

Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced the issuance of proposed guidance for organizations seeking tax-exempt status. The guidance is a response to the tax agency’s targeting of conservative and Tea Party organizations, which began in 2010.

The Treasury and IRS proposed guidance defines “candidate-related political activity” and “would amend current regulations by indicating that the promotion of social welfare does not include this type of activity.” The agencies also will require groups engaging in candidate-related activity — including any communications that identify a candidate or party, voter registration and GOTV drives — to disclose contributions.

Via Lachlan Markey of the Free Beacon, some experts, rightly, allege that this is an attempt by the Obama Administration to side-step the 2010 Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and stifle free speech:

“This is an astonishing—and from this feckless, hyper-partisan administration, unsurprising—effort to curtail the free speech of Americans who come together to better their community,” said campaign finance attorney Dan Backer in an email.

The move was widely seen as a reaction to an ongoing scandal involving IRS treatment of applicants for 501(c)(4) status that were singled out for their perceived affiliations with the Tea Party movement.

Should you have to disclose your political contributions?

In a new video from Learn Liberty, Professor Brad Smith, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), discusses a scenario where Congress passes a law, in order to ensure that parties weren’t being infiltrated by terrorists, that would require all Americans to disclose their political activity — call it, as he says, the “PATRIOT II Act.” . This information, says Smith, would be made available in an online database for all to see, including prospective employers and neighbors. You would no doubt say that this is an invasion of your privacy.

But it may surprise you to find out that such a law, though not under the pretenses outlined by Smith, already exists. The Federal Elections Campaign Act of 1974 allows the government to track campaign donations and spending, making it available online for anyone to see.

With the Citizens United decision a frequent target of President Barack Obama, who constantly lies about the impact of the case, and Democrats and the rise of so-called “super PACs,” the debate over campaign disclosure laws deserve more debate and discussion, as well as attention paid to privacy.

The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.