Free Speech: The IRS scandal is not only not over but is getting worse, with a call by New York's senior senator for the already-politicized agency to use its power to tax to destroy the conservative grass-roots movement.
"It is clear that we will not pass anything legislatively as long as the House of Representatives is in Republican control, but there are many things that can be done administratively by the IRS and other government agencies," Schumer said in a speech before the leftist think tank Center for American Progress.
Calling for the IRS to use its powers to resume war on the First Amendment and free speech he doesn't like in the hopes of electing more Democrats, Schumer said: "We must redouble those efforts immediately."
Schumer was the author of the 2010 Disclose Act that failed to make it through Congress but would have required the disclosure of corporate donors to tax-exempt organizations, and membership and donor lists of the groups running "issue" ads.
"The bill was designed to embarrass companies," Schumer admitted, and its "deterrent effect should not be underestimated."
Advocating the use of government power to harass and intimidate political opponents is nothing new to Schumer. Along with Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Tom Udall of New Mexico and Al Franken of Minnesota, he sent a similar letter to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman in February 2012 asking the IRS to investigate 12 conservative groups he accused of violating their tax-exempt status and engaging in coordinated political activity.
This effort to use government power to fundamentally transform our political system more along the lines of the Venezuelan model includes new IRS rules for 501(c)(4) organizations that would redefine "candidate-related political activity" and make virtually everything such tax-exempt political groups do a taxable activity.
Washington, D.C., attorney Cleta Mitchell, who represents a number of the Tea Party groups targeted by the IRS, says that under the new rules candidate-related activities would cover just about everything a 501(c)(4) typically does, including candidate debates, guides for voting, lobbying at the grass roots, issue advocacy as well as any public statements by officers of 501(c)(4)s that reference incumbents and candidates.
Schumer's call for government to punish its political enemies comes at the same time the IRS is conducting a Hollywood witch hunt openly targeting for "special scrutiny" a group known as the Friends of Abe. Named after Abraham Lincoln, it has about 1,500 members involved in various aspects of the film industry who meet to discuss politics and listen to conservative leaders.
The group doesn't engage in overt political activities or endorse candidates. It functions as a sort of a conservative support group for Hollywood conservatives in that liberal bastion and seeks to keep its members' names secret for fear of career consequences.
Jeremy Boreing, executive director of Friends of Abe, insists his organization has "absolutely no political agenda" and exists only to "create fellowship among like-minded individuals." What bothers the IRS is the fact the group, which has applied for tax-exempt status, invites largely conservative speakers.
The ability of people to peacefully assemble to petition their government for redress of grievances is under attack as the IRS and Democratic senators continue to ask, "Are you now, or have you ever been, a conservative?"
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