The Conversation

Dems Still Trying to Make IRS Scandal About Citizens United

In response to Sen. Wyden: If You Don't Want IRS Hassles, Don't Apply for Tax Exempt Status:

Wyden's line of questioning in today's Senate Finance Committee attempted to turn the focus away from political targeting in the IRS and back towards campaign finance reform in general--a tangential issue, since the IRS did not scrutinize more than a few liberal groups while subjecting every "Tea Party" group to scrutiny.

Perhaps Wyden could be given a pass, since he has made campaign finance reform a signature issue. Not so the rest of the Democratic caucus (with notable exceptions, such as committee chair Max Baucus of Montana, who is retiring). They want to make the issue about the Citizens United case and 501(c)4 groups in general.

Yet it is a historical fact that the controversy over Citizens United was largely stirred up by the left for partisan reasons. Both liberal and conservative groups benefited from the ruling, but Democrats used it to stir their activists--and, ironically, to raise money. Recall that Sen. Chuck Schumer's original "Disclose Act" to counter the Citizens United ruling went after corporations but let Democrat-aligned unions off the hook.

It was at that same time, and in the same spirit, that Schumer and others contacted the IRS to encourage them to investigate new applicants for tax-exempt status, and President Barack Obama set about demonizing the Tea Party. The objections to 501(c)4 groups, though aimed at "both sides" in a perfunctory manner, were almost inseparable from the left's attempt to destroy the conservative grassroots, and largely remain so. 


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