Criticized by its own Inspector General earlier
this year on the IRS targeting of tea party groups for special
scrutiny, the Treasury Department appears to be doubling down,
proposing a new rule to restrict political speech by non-profits.
The Washington Post
Under the proposed rule, groups such as Crossroads GPS,
co-founded by GOP strategist Karl Rove, and the Democratic-allied
League of Conservation Voters would no longer be able to claim some
of their routine activities as part of their work as “social
Instead, the new Treasury Department regulation would define things
such as distributing voter guides, registering people to vote and
running ads that mention elected officials close to Election Day as
“candidate-related political activities.” The rule would
substantially roll back the level of political activity open to
“social welfare” groups.
Unmentioned by the Washington Post is one of the
biggest 501(c)4s of them all, Organizing for Action (OFA,
former Obama for America), which still operates the website
barackobama.com and the president’s Twitter feed. OFA has
been very active since the 2012 election in promoting President
Obama’s and the Democrats’ agenda. See some of their, uh, “social
welfare” work here.
Other non-profit groups have gone to bat for Obama’s policies
too, sometimes under the guise of being non-partisan yet
specifically tailored in support of a distinctly political agenda.
Capital City Project
reports, for example, that Families USA, a “non-partisan”
non-profit focusing on “affordable health care for all Americans”
received a $1 million grant to collect pro-Obamacare stories.
Capital City Project points out those stories then get picked up by
media outlets who source them to an “independent” or non-partisan
group, even though it’s a group whose mission lines up neatly with
the title of the president’s signature legislation.
It’s a safe bet non-profits that support the agenda of the
ruling party (for now Democrats) won’t be as negatively affected by
the proposed rule and other attempts at government regulation as
non-profits challenging those in power. The IRS’ targeting of Tea
Party and “patriot” groups speaks to that. Money facilitates
speech, and in this country at least, the exercise of speech is
free. The Treasury Department ought to be disengaging from the
practice of regulating what amount to groups exercising free
speech, not proposing new rules to further restrict political
speech it doesn’t favor.
from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/27/obama-administration-proposes-rule-to-li