The Internal Revenue Service has officially revoked the tax-exempt status of a conservative charity group, claiming that since at least 2004 the group has violated its compliance with rules preventing the group from engaging in political advocacy.
The IRS claims that the group – according to USA Today, the Virginia-based Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty founded by Gary Aldrich – has too often attempted to directly engage in candidate advocacy – or more precisely opposition – and this violates its status as a charity.
In its determination, the IRS decided that the Patrick Henry Center “does not qualify” as a 501(c)3 organization because the group had “published statements” which the IRS feels “constitute intervention in a political campaign.”
The statement listed dozens of cases of the group’s fundraising letters lambasting candidates – which, though redacted, match details of candidates such as Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and others – in no-holds-barred rhetoric. However, the group maintains that while it may have criticized candidates, it never advocated for its followers to vote for any particular candidate.
The Patrick Henry Center also protested that the harsh language in the fundraising letters cited by the IRS had nothing to do with intervening in elections but was merely meant as a vehicle by which to raise money.
The IRS disagreed:
…the organization made repeated statements supporting or opposing various candidates by expressing its opinion of the respective candidate’s character and qualifications. The statements included support for [candidate’s name redacted by IRS] re-election and disparaging remarks about [redacted] and [redacted] fitness for office. These constitute statements for or against a candidate, and therefore political campaign intervention…
This determination means that donations to the Patrick Henry Center are no longer tax deductible.
USA Today reported that the group’s 2012 tax return revealed $343,503 in revenue.
The group’s founder, Gary Aldrich, may be best known for having authored the 1998 anti-Bill Clinton book Unlimited Access and has for years been a harsh Clinton critic.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.