Breaking: A Broad-Based IRS Assault on the Tea Party? | American Center for Law and Justice
  Search  |  Login  |  Register

Broad-Based IRS Assault on Tea Party?

By David French1330723830000

In the last 24 hours, my colleagues at the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) have been in contact with literally dozens of tea party organizations that have received intrusive information demands from the IRS, demands that seriously implicate their First Amendment rights. These information demands follow Tea Party requests for 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) status and include questions like the following:

Do you directly or indirectly communicate with members of legislative bodies? If so, provide copies of the written communications and contents of other forms of communications.

And

Please describe the associate group members and their role with your organization in further detail. (a) How does your organization solicit members? (b) What are the questions asked of potential members? (c) What are the selection criteria for approval? (d) Do you limit membership to other organizations exempt under 501(c)(4) of the Code? (e) Provide the name, employer identification number, and address of the organizations.

And

Do you have a close relationship with any candidate for public office or political party? If so describe fully the nature of that relationship.

The quoted requests are merely the tip of the iceberg. We're still reviewing the IRS letters and will have more information as we complete our review. Each of these questions -- in their content, breadth, and vagueness -- implicate the free speech rights of the affected Tea Party groups. Moreover, such intrusive membership requests also run afoul of NAACP v. Alabama and implicate their rights to freedom of association.

Critically, the demands we've seen are made not in response to complaints of wrongdoing but instead in response to applications for exemption. In other words, the IRS appears to be conditioning the grant of exemptions on the extensive violation of the Tea Party's fundamental First Amendment freedoms.

As I said, our review is ongoing, but the early indications are the IRS is using the routine process of seeking and granting tax exemptions to undertake a sweeping, top-down review of the internal workings of the Tea Party movement in the United States. Such a review is far beyond its mission and directly implicates the First Amendment rights of all citizens.

This article is crossposted at National Review Online.

Latest in
Free Speech

IRS Continues Religious Targeting

By Jay Sekulow1452802669572

A new bombshell government report confirms fears that the Obama Administration’s IRS is still targeting conservative groups based on “religious” and “political” views. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) report requested by Members of Congress reveals further proof of what we’ve been arguing...

read more

The IRS backs down

By Jay Sekulow1452291239789

Americans spoke out. And the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) listened. A new regulation proposed by the IRS would have some nonprofit charities report the Social Security numbers of donors giving at least $250 in one year. The regulation would permit, but not require, charitable organizations to...

read more

ACLJ Takes On Angry Atheists’ Demand

By Benjamin P. Sisney1451580328895

The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) has demanded that private hotel chains remove Gideon-placed Bibles from their hotel rooms. The ACLJ has responded, on behalf of more than 178,000 Americans, sending a letter to set the record straight to each of the hotels harassed by FFRF. As we’ve...

read more

ACLJ Forces IRS to Comply with the Law

By Carly F. Gammill1451508978615

The ACLJ has secured an important victory in our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case against the IRS on behalf of Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire. After a year of litigation, which followed over four months of waiting for the IRS to respond to its FOIA request, we finally succeeded in...

read more