IRS denied pro-life and conservative groups tax-exempt status for ‘anti-Obama rhetoric,’ doc shows
WASHINGTON, D.C., September 18, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The IRS singled out groups that engaged in “anti-Obama rhetoric” for extra scrutiny when they applied for non-profit status, an internal document shows.
A list of targeted groups, dated from November 2011, runs 12 pages and includes 162 organizations.
An analysis by USA Today found that 80 percent of the applicants targeted were affiliated with the Tea Party or the conservative cause – including at least one prominent pro-life and pro-family group.
Tax agents slowed down the application process of groups the agency claimed engaged in such purportedly “prohibited political activities” as posting “anti-Obama rhetoric on [its] website” or running what “appears to be an anti-Obama administration website.”
Presenting a negative viewpoint of the president is protected speech under the First Amendment and well within the rights of groups granted 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 status.
Other conservative non-profits had been highlighted, because they presented “propaganda,” information the government considered too emotional and therefore not “educational.”
However, tax law does not mention “propaganda,” much less consider it a bar to legal recognition.
At least one of the groups caught in the administration's dragnet is an outspoken advocate for life and traditional “marriage”: The Faith and Freedom Coalition. The national organization, headquartered in Atlanta, lists as its first principle a “respect for the sanctity and dignity of life, family, and marriage as the foundations of a free society.”
The Ohio chapter is led by Family Research Council senior fellow Ken Blackwell, a former Ohio secretary of state and the Republican Party's 2006 candidate for governor. Blackwell opposes to all abortions without exception and supports the Personhood movement.
Both the Ohio and Michigan state affiliates were accused of engaging in “voter education activities” such as “voter registration” and get-out-the-vote.”
Yet tax law allows tax-exempt organizations to undertake both activities.
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Others on the list included Tea Party Patriots, the anti-voter fraud watchdog True the Vote, RightChange.com, and Republican political guru Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS.
The list included 11 liberal organizations, including the Coffee Party USA, Progressives United, the New Roosevelt Foundation, and Progress Texas, which agents said published “anti-Rick Perry rhetoric,” and its “political commentary may be too disparaging/emotional/not educational.”
All 11 “progressive” groups received their tax exemption. Many of the conservative groups saw their applications turned down or never acted on whatsoever.
The Tea Party of North Idaho withdrew its bid in 2012 after years of inaction.
“Congress needs to demand and enforce immediate reform in the IRS,” said Ed Morrissey of HotAir.com. “They also need to find out who ordered the targeting, regardless of how high up it goes. ”