IRS going after conservatives in Hollywood now?

posted at 8:01 am on January 24, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.  A conservative group applies for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status with the IRS in full compliance of the law, but gets jerked around for a couple of years in a process that should just take a few months. The IRS tax-exempt unit then starts demanding private information that isn’t germane to the application, but which worries members about just why the IRS would want this kind of information about opponents to the current administration.

According to the Obama administration, this is old news from 2010-12, and the targeting of political opponents by the IRS stopped long ago. According to the New York Times, it’s just moved out west — and now targets the few conservatives in the entertainment industry (via Twitchy):

A collection of perhaps 1,500 right-leaning players in the entertainment industry, Friends of Abe keeps a low profile and fiercely protects its membership list, to avoid what it presumes would result in a sort of 21st-century blacklist, albeit on the other side of the partisan spectrum.

Now the Internal Revenue Service is reviewing the group’s activities in connection with its application for tax-exempt status. Last week, federal tax authorities presented the group with a 10-point request for detailed information about its meetings with politicians like Paul D. Ryan, Thaddeus McCotter and Herman Cain, among other matters, according to people briefed on the inquiry. …

Those people said that the application had been under review for roughly two years, and had at one point included a demand — which was not met — for enhanced access to the group’s security-protected website, which would have revealed member names. Tax experts said that an organization’s membership list is information that would not typically be required. The I.R.S. already had access to the site’s basic levels, a request it considers routine for applications for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.

Friends of Abe — the name refers to Abraham Lincoln — has strongly discouraged the naming of its members. That policy even prohibits the use of cameras at group events, to avoid the unwilling identification of all but a few associates — the actors Gary Sinise, Jon Voight and Kelsey Grammer, or the writer-producer Lionel Chetwynd, for instance — who have spoken openly about their conservative political views.

Michael Cieply and Nicholas Confessore give a good rundown of the issue, which should be read in full, and kudos to the Times for their coverage. The group wants 501(c)(3) status so that contributor donations can be tax deductible, and that does entail some scrutiny from the IRS. A 501(c)(3) cannot conduct any partisan political activity, ie, that which supports one party or a particular candidate in an election. It can, however, conduct educational efforts and champion policies.

As Cieply and Confessore note, this is hardly a new and novel effort. Norman Lear operated People for the American Way as a 501(c)(3) for many years (although now is apparently a 501(c)(4) which donates to candidates), and that spent millions each year on “issue advocacy” in Washington DC and the states in its prior status– and by “issue advocacy,” we mean lobbying, of course. Laurie David and Leonardo di Caprio have the Natural Resources Defense Council.  The entertainment industry has numerous groups of this kind, plus their ability to frame their political messages into their art, with not terribly wonderful results either economically or artisticallybut the IRS doesn’t seem terribly interested in these groups.

Why pick on Friends of Abe? The group wants to keep its membership information private, for one thing. Anyone who saw what happened to Maria Conchita Alonso can understand why. But this isn’t supposed to be an issue for 501(c)(3) organizations in the first place. There isn’t any requirement to make membership or donor information public, because they are proscribed from directly supporting political parties and candidates by that very status. Yet here is the IRS stalling the application for two years, demanding access to the internal website, and asking intrusive questions that are really none of its business. It’s not difficult to see this as an attempt to identify members and embarrass them — or to intimidate them out of the political sphere altogether.

And that sounds like business as usual for the last few years.


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…why not?…nothing happens!

KOOLAID2 on January 24, 2014 at 8:02 AM

Until Obama has to hire an impeachment lawyer with his own money nothing will change.

meci on January 24, 2014 at 8:07 AM

Nothing to see here…..what scandal?

cmsinaz on January 24, 2014 at 8:08 AM

Conservatives need a march on the Treasury Department.

BuckeyeSam on January 24, 2014 at 8:08 AM

IRS is cleared
-holder

cmsinaz on January 24, 2014 at 8:09 AM

Ace of Spades lays out the recent ‘coincidences…’

Coincidence: Hollywood’s only conservative group is getting close IRS nonprofit scrutiny

Another Coincidence: James O’Keefe Group Being Audited by NY. Again.

Yet Another Coincidence: Dinesh D’Souza Indicted For Election Fraud

Still Another Coincidence: IRS Proposes New 501(c)(4) Rules That Just Happen to Cover Most Tea Party Groups

Judge Strikes Down Wisconsin’s ‘John Doe’ Subpoenas

Frightening times…

Drained Brain on January 24, 2014 at 8:10 AM

When will the GOP stand up for its conservative base?

I forgot, the GOP isn’t conservative.

Never mind.

itsspideyman on January 24, 2014 at 8:10 AM

Drained brains….getting ready for the elections

cmsinaz on January 24, 2014 at 8:10 AM

This is tyranny- pure and simple. When rulers start to turn the auspices of the state, the state we own, against the people, it is simple, unencumbered despotism.

What is it, I wonder, that Democrats fear in debate? In the airing and articulation of opposing views? Was not our country built on debate, difference of opinion and the reconcilement for our collective betterment?

Now, they turn us against each other to pursue their despicable ends. They crush debate and dissension at every turn. They stifle differences of opinion by labeling any opposition extreme, trying to place some evil connotation or make an false emotional plea to distract people from the real truth- that Democrats want to be rulers, not servants of the people as they should be.

Where are the promises the president and his attorney general made to pursue previous criminal behavior by the IRS who targeted their political opponents?

It is nowhere because at a minimum they condone and support it.

The state of the union is terrible and tenuous as the despotic forces within our government continue to trample our freedom.

I only wonder how long, before somebody, anybody comes to defend us? When do we take back our government from these lawless occupants?

Marcus Traianus on January 24, 2014 at 8:12 AM

Until Obama has to hire an impeachment lawyer with his own money nothing will change.

meci on January 24, 2014 at 8:07 AM

I think the best conservatives can hope for is taking the Senate in 2014 and then spending the final two years of Obama’s term railing against every unconstitutional action he tries or has tried to take–every day, all day long. Use the two years as an attempt to educate the citizens on the Constitution.

BuckeyeSam on January 24, 2014 at 8:12 AM

Well, duh, they got away with targeting other conservatives, and Upchuck Schumer renewed his call for the IRS to target the rest of us, so of course they’re targeting Hollywood conservatives.

Steve Eggleston on January 24, 2014 at 8:14 AM

According to the Obama administration, this is old news from 2010-12, and the targeting of political opponents by the IRS stopped long ago

Bullsh!t. It won’t end until the fascist regime is out of power. And there should be no cooperation with fascists.

rbj on January 24, 2014 at 8:16 AM

And why shouldn’t we compare this justice department to the gestapo? Stomping out political dissentl is a shared trait.

rplat on January 24, 2014 at 8:21 AM

Bullsh!t. It won’t end until the fascist regime is out of power. And there should be no cooperation with fascists.

rbj on January 24, 2014 at 8:16 AM

This should include the “Establishment” wing of the GOP. They’re no different than the Dems.

Key West Reader on January 24, 2014 at 8:23 AM

And Weepy Boehner cant wait to use the IRS against pro-border enforcement and anti-illegal immigration groups.

Jeddite on January 24, 2014 at 8:25 AM

Does Obama’s dentist subscribe to the TIMES? Otherwise he’ll never know that the IRS is up to no good again.

fogw on January 24, 2014 at 8:28 AM

These people are in full war mode, our side is still scratching their heads trying to reach across the aisle…

Alinsky on January 24, 2014 at 8:36 AM

OT it looks like politico found out where new Hampshire is

Idiots

cmsinaz on January 24, 2014 at 8:36 AM

But this is just a faux scandal. Nothing to see here. Not like Bridgegate.

Chris of Rights on January 24, 2014 at 8:40 AM

The GOP won’t do a damn thing about this.

They are WORSE than dimmocrits.

LOL – keep harping on the fact that a third party would lose – and be ineffective.

Really? As in … MORE ineffective and more losing that this group of GOP eunuchs?

Really?

HondaV65 on January 24, 2014 at 8:40 AM

This must be where they transferred those 2 rogue employees behind the whole thing….

Hey, remember when they came after Joe the Plumber?

Who’s next.

RealMc on January 24, 2014 at 8:44 AM

Time to follow the lead of these people who are standing up for their rights, the video is a must see:

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/spectacular-photos-of-fireworks-weaponry-from-the-ukrai-1507432049/@jesusdiaz

Bishop on January 24, 2014 at 8:49 AM

Soon it’s going to be a badge of honor. And what are the Republican leaders doing in congress while Obama and his Democrats round up all the dissenters?
Pushing amnesty. Attacking the TEA party.

It’s going to get worse. It’s doesn’t take brains to see what is coming. All the GOP does is have hearings. So what? That’s not push back. That’s nothing. This administration is lawless and our side is doing nothing. So it’s going to get worse and worse.
Obama says 2014 is the year of “action?” I will lay 50/50 odds that this year he goes after all of his “enemies” like Rush and Hannity.
What has the IRS scandal cost him? What has Benghazi cost him? What has any of these scandals cost him? So why stop now!

JellyToast on January 24, 2014 at 8:53 AM

Right to our face.

Republicans are so impotent.

No Chop Charlie on January 24, 2014 at 8:54 AM

The Victims of the IRS scandal that the media, DOJ, & Obama have been able to make dissappear from the headlines? They STILL have not gotten their Tax Exempt Statuses! Now THIS story pops up, this Hollywood Conservative Group who has not been given their Tax Exempt Status in 2 years!

The ugly truth Obama/Liberals don’t want anyone to know…or remember…is that Obama used the IRS to go after the TEA Parties and Conservatives who cost them the House. They don’t want you to know/remember the reason they illegally used the IRS was to eliminate the road blocks to Obama’s re-election in 2012. Why have these groups STILL not been given their tax exempt statuses? It;s 2014, and Democrats stand to lose the Senate as well to the GOP. If these Conservative Groups get their tax exempt statuses BEFORE the 2014 election the Democrats KNOW their defeat is coming. This ILLEGAL war will continue to be waged against Conservatives, Obama illegally & Un-Constitutionally using the IRS to go after his political enemies, until no earlier than after the 2014 elections.

Like NSA Spying, this illegal activity, the war against Americans, is NOT going away…until you make OBAMA, Reid, & Pelosi go away.

easyt65 on January 24, 2014 at 8:56 AM

This should include the “Establishment” wing of the GOP. They’re no different than the Dems.

Key West Reader on January 24, 2014 at 8:23 AM

Indeed. Charlie Crist is not a one-off proposition, there are far too many “go along to get along” types.

rbj on January 24, 2014 at 9:05 AM

The Stasi is alive and well.

totherightofthem on January 24, 2014 at 9:05 AM

Would it be naïve to think that this may get more traction since the targets are more high-profile?

Grasping for straws……

tru2tx on January 24, 2014 at 9:12 AM

Funny thing. No posting on this from the slave. Went straight to the thread above though.

Bmore on January 24, 2014 at 9:23 AM

This is the Democrats’ idea of progress. America continues to become more like the rest of the world. More fascist.

It doesn’t matter what the rules are. What matters is who your friends are.

How wonderful. We need more diversity so we can become even more like the rest of the world.

fadetogray on January 24, 2014 at 9:30 AM

I am just wondering when the next civil war breaks out. Only it will be targeting govt agencies and there will be nothing the military can do about it. I just cannot imagine why anyone thinks the IRS’ activities are appropriate, regardless of your politics.

At what point do the states finally realize they can pretty much stop all of this by refusing to comply and mobilizing their own national guards, which is where most of the troops now reside.

We are at a breaking point – half of the folks want a handout, half want to be mostly left alone. Most are torn on the big entitlements – SS and Medicare – and would welcome a real discussion on fixing them, but there is nary a democrat politician in DC who has a desire to touch it. The GOP is none too interested either, don’t think they forgot the Schumer play on Ryan’s pretty modest proposal.

Sad times. Sad times.

Zomcon JEM on January 24, 2014 at 9:43 AM

Oh. I’m sorry. Is the IRS not supposed to investigate requests for tax exempt status? Girl, bye.

libfreeordie on January 24, 2014 at 9:45 AM

Funny thing. No posting on this from the slave. Went straight to the thread above though.

Bmore on January 24, 2014 at 9:23 AM

Maybe he’ll show up if we call Obama a thug.

Obama’s a Chicago thug.

gwelf on January 24, 2014 at 9:53 AM

Oh. I’m sorry. Is the IRS not supposed to investigate requests for tax exempt status? Girl, bye.

libfreeordie on January 24, 2014 at 9:45 AM

You mean like they did for Media Matters and Organizing for Obama?

HumpBot Salvation on January 24, 2014 at 9:59 AM

Oh. I’m sorry. Is the IRS not supposed to investigate requests for tax exempt status? Girl, bye.

libfreeordie on January 24, 2014 at 9:45 AM

Look. It’s the D’Souza of the left. Horrible writer. No citations. Reading comprehension fail.

Lefty groups requests fly through the IRS you dolt.

gwelf on January 24, 2014 at 9:59 AM

You mean like they did for Media Matters and Organizing for Obama?

HumpBot Salvation on January 24, 2014 at 9:59 AM

It took years…uh months…uh weeks for OFA to get their tax exempt status?

libtard also willfully misses the part where they are being asked completely inappropriate questions – some designed around forcing them to reveal members and donors who then will coincidentally will be targeted by other federal agencies or by lefty political groups who somehow got their hands on the “private” information.

gwelf on January 24, 2014 at 10:01 AM

Oh. I’m sorry. Is the IRS not supposed to investigate requests for tax exempt status? Girl, bye.

libfreeordie on January 24, 2014 at 9:45 AM

And take 2 years? And ask them questions they have no business asking that they don’t ask other applicants?

That in past cases this information has been “leaked” to lefty groups who then go on to target people?

You’ve got fascism right in your face and you couldn’t care less.

gwelf on January 24, 2014 at 10:03 AM

gwelf on January 24, 2014 at 9:53 AM

Lolz! Took a bit of effort, looks like I was able to summon the slave. ; )

Bmore on January 24, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Oh. I’m sorry. Is the IRS not supposed to investigate requests for tax exempt status? Girl, bye.

libfreeordie on January 24, 2014 at 9:45 AM

Girl please. If this had happened under Bush you’d be lighting yourself on fire and running around screaming about the Fascist States of Amerikkka.

gwelf on January 24, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Oh. I’m sorry. Is the IRS not supposed to investigate requests for tax exempt status? Girl, bye.

libfreeordie on January 24, 2014 at 9:45 AM

I think the concern is the inequitable treatment between liberal groups that are granted tax exempt status immediately with no review, and conservative groups who are sent inumerable requests for private information with the application process dragging on for years, frequently having their leaders audited and then having their applications denied without adequate reason.

But don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll manage to defend Barack Milhaus Obama in your mind.

talkingpoints on January 24, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Criminal suppression of voters rights

violations of the first and fourth amendmenst by the obama admin.

the most corrupt in the history of america.
The more the leftists gain power the more fascist thier actions.

How many lefties refuse to admit that under obama if you donate to a conservative group, obama gets the IRS thugs to try to ruin your life.

sniffles1999 on January 24, 2014 at 10:08 AM

I suspect the IRS is targeting a LOT of conservatives and we’re not hearing about it.

In fact when a (former) conservative suddenly has a change of heart about things they’ve said in the past I can’t help but wonder why they would have such a sudden “epiphany” for no apparent reason at all until I think of the IRS.

Can’t help but wonder if we’re in the midst of a bloodless coup.

Rethuglican on January 24, 2014 at 10:39 AM

The Chicago way of doing business gets stronger every year with this leftist administration. Should anyone really be surprised. Thugs will always be thugs.

regmgr on January 24, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Darrell Issa to hold hearings in … oh, never mind.

ShainS on January 24, 2014 at 11:24 AM

Welcome to the new normal.
High unemployment.
High energy costs.
High healthcare costs.
High politicians!

LeftCoastRight on January 24, 2014 at 11:33 AM

Plus this

Schadenfreude on January 24, 2014 at 11:49 AM

McCarthy laughs in his grave.

Schadenfreude on January 24, 2014 at 11:49 AM

Thugs will always be thugs.

regmgr on January 24, 2014 at 10:42 AM

I just read a blurb this morning that said that “thug” is the new “n-word”. LOL

And one last night that bacon is dog-whistle racist.

I suppose that we should all learn to communicate in grunts and howls, since all actual words will be racist. (Of course, then we’d be able to communicate with d’ohbama’s base constituency.)

Solaratov on January 24, 2014 at 12:27 PM

Democrat studio owners would love to have lampshades made of human skin.

Murphy9 on January 24, 2014 at 2:03 PM

Time to follow the lead of these people who are standing up for their rights, the video is a must see:

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/spectacular-photos-of-fireworks-weaponry-from-the-ukrai-1507432049/@jesusdiaz

Bishop on January 24, 2014 at 8:49 AM

Won’t happen. The liberal dumbing down is almost complete and we still have enough comforts.

kim roy on January 24, 2014 at 2:06 PM

IRS is cleared of any politically motivated action taken against conservatives now or in the future.
-holder

cmsinaz on January 24, 2014 at 8:09 AM

FIFY

in_awe on January 24, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Gotta love Lt. Dan.

Thank you for your work, Gary, keep the faith.

Freelancer on January 24, 2014 at 8:39 PM

Oh. I’m sorry. Is the IRS not supposed to investigate requests for tax exempt status? Girl, bye.

libfreeordie on January 24, 2014 at 9:45 AM

The IRS should not be involved in First Amendment and Freedom of Association issues in any way whatsoever.
The division of organizations into tax-exempt or not based on political activity is pernicious and unconstitutional.
The people making donations have already paid a tax on the money; additional taxes are double-dipping and open the gate for exactly this type of corruption (among others).

AesopFan on January 24, 2014 at 11:09 PM

This ‘report’ contains more inaccuracies than Wendy Davis’s bio.

Not to mention the idiotic claim that Friends of Bill = Friends of Bill Clinton. Had a really good laugh over that one.

Hollywood Conservatives have a natural tendency to play their political, moral and spiritual beliefs close to the vest. Oh, we definitely let loose amongst ourselves but to do the same at mixed company social events or (even worse) in a work environment, is considered really bad form.

Whereas Hollywood Progressives love nothing more than expounding their opinions to anyone and everyone within earshot because they… a) Enjoy hearing the sound of their own voices b) Assume everyone thinks exactly as they do c) Have zero fear of retribution d) Are sorta precious in their soft-headedness

I find that, when caught in the grips of a rip tide, it’s best to just float along with the current until it loses strength and you can calmly swim back to shore.

Afterwards, treat yourself to a victory burger at Patrick’s Roadhouse.

The Ugly American on January 25, 2014 at 5:33 AM