Chairman Miller: We Must Protect Free Speech from Abuse by the IRS

Feb 26, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Committee on House Administration Chairman Candice Miller (R-MI) submitted comments urging the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) not to adopt proposed rules regulating non-profit 501(c)(4) groups’ ability to participate in our nation’s political discussions.  Committee on House Administration Members Representatives Gregg Harper (MS-03), Phil Gingrey (GA-11), Aaron Schock (IL-18), Todd Rokita (IN-04), and Richard Nugent (FL-11) joined Chairman Miller in submitting comments to the Secretary of the Treasury against the IRS’ proposed rules.
 
Highlighting concerns to the IRS’ proposed regulations, Miller said:
 
“Our federal government should never be in the business of limiting guaranteed First Amendment rights.  Yet the IRS’ proposed regulations would, if adopted, restrict speech and influence the outcome of elections.  Rather than merely clarifying existing law, the proposed regulations would significantly expand the agency’s role in restricting the ability of 501(c)(4)s organizations to engage in political activity.  We cannot allow the expansion of the IRS’ position as a regulator of political speech.  The IRS has a long and troubling history of targeting political opponents of the Administration with its vast enforcement power.  Additionally, imposing a new set of regulations on political activity months before an election further lends the appearance of a politically motivated decision behind the rulemaking.
 
“The Federal Election Commission was created to regulate political speech, and avoids partisan manipulation by being structured to prevent one party from controlling its decisions.  The IRS lacks that partisan protection and all too often throughout its history the IRS has been used by those who are in power in the Administration as a political tool against those who are not.  The last thing that should happen is to expand the scope of political activity subject to regulations by the IRS – precisely what the agency’s proposed regulations would do.
 
“We cannot allow the expansion of the IRS’ role in the regulation of political activity and give them carte blanch authority to drive our nation’s political conversation, especially given the recent scandal involving the agency’s improper targeting of ideologically conservative groups.  We urge the IRS to, at a minimum, delay their proposed regulations respective effective dates until after the elections, and no sooner than January 1, 2015.  These proposed regulations are rooted in the belief that social welfare activity does not include political activity.  But one can think of few activities intended more clearly to promote the general welfare of the United States than engaging in the political process.”
 
Note: Click here to view the letter sent to the Secretary of the Treasury.

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