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January 24 2014

IRS: Let’s Out Hollywood Conservatives

Patrice J. Lee

The IRS appears to have a new target in its campaign against conservative groups: conservatives in Hollywood.The IRS appears to have a new target in its campaign against conservative groups: conservatives in Hollywood.

Not satisfied with stymieing the efforts of Tea Party groups in an election year, the IRS is using its authority to grant tax exemption to dive into the inner working of an association of conservative minded writers, actors and celebrities.

The New York Times reports:

In a famously left-leaning Hollywood, where Democratic fund-raisers fill the social calendar, Friends of Abe stands out as a conservative group that bucks the prevailing political winds.

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.

To a lay person a two-year application process seems excessive and it probably is. To be fair, this group is seeking 501(c)3 status which has more stringent prohibitions than 501(c)4 status which other conservative groups sought. We can still question the motivations behind the extra scrutiny and in light of the IRS’s history as well as comments by its officials, we aren’t going amiss in questioning this latest move.

Targeting Friends of Abe is especially grievous. To espouse limited government and free enterprise beliefs publically in Tinseltown can be a career breaker for actors and artists. Just ask the gorgeous, black actress Stacy Dash. The IRS’s probe to uncover Friends of Abe’s membership seems to be a nasty scare tactic meant to “out” individuals who should be able to hold their views while associating together.

This is another chapter in the never-ending saga of the IRS scandal that broke last year. The Administration and Democrats went to great ends to deny that it was a scandal. They chalked up the invasive and discriminatory practices of local and nation agents to slow down the tax-exemption applications to a few rogue agents.

Then came the Administration’s new proposed rules to crack down on organizations seeking tax exemption by limiting the election-related activities that qualify as social welfare –which must be their primary focus. It was a move intended that would harm conservative and libertarian organizations.

The icing on the cake came last week when the DOJ concluded from their internal investigation into the IRS scandal that there would be no criminal charges. They found incompetence, mismanagement, confusion, and even lazy behavior but nothing that rose to the level of criminal behavior. Mind you, the lead investigator was a big Obama donor.

The alarming measures the Administration is taking to limit the power of opposition voices should be of grave concern to Americans. Perhaps we can take it that the Administration views these groups as a threat to the electoral success of the liberal agenda. However, this is more than just political maneuvering. A federal agency that should be nonpartisan is abusing its powers and authority through concerted efforts and in a discriminatory manner. Furthermore, the Administration is working to institutionalize this abuse to outlive the current occupants of the White House, Capitol building, and agency positions.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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