An ambiguous new rule to stop Americans from influencing elections
The Obama Administration doesn’t lack for nerve or, more to the point, disdain for the law. Even as investigations continue into the IRS targeting of conservative nonprofit groups, Treasury and the IRS are introducing a new regulation to further restrict the ability of nonprofit groups to participate in elections.
Treasury’s draft of the proposed rule would redefine as political activity a wide range of actions currently undertaken by hundreds of 501(c)(4)s, which are allowed to engage in politics as long as it is not their “primary purpose.” The rule amounts to a crackdown on the Administration’s opponents, limiting their ability to talk about their core issues during an election cycle.
Under the new rule, the IRS would change the standard on issue advertising so that any broadcast ad that mentions a candidate within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election would count as “political activity.” That’s the standard currently used by the Federal Election Commission to define an “electioneering communication,” but using it as a standard for tax-exempt status imposes artificial limits on groups’ ability to work on their core missions during election cycles.
The rule would also expand the definition of political activity to include any communication that mentions the name of a candidate and reaches more than 500 people in the run-up to an election. That definition would include newsletters, candidate appearances at a group function, common materials like voter guides, and articles or blog posts on a group’s website.
SideBear: Do we still have a First Amendment to the Constitution?
Rove: IRS Rule Change Aimed at Gagging Conservatives
Republican political strategist Karl Rove accused the Obama administration of “hypocrisy” Wednesday, charging that a proposed change in IRS rules regarding nonprofit organizations is aimed at gagging conservative activists.
“This is clearly an attempt by the administration to discourage conservative groups,” …