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What Is a Conservative Doing with a Group Called Greenhouse Solutions?


I chatted with an old friend, Drew Ryun, after I saw his name in a story about the IRS. In his case, he couldn’t manage to get IRS nonprofit clearance for a research group called Mediatrackers in 2011, but he could for one called Greenhouse Solutions.

After eight months of getting nowhere with the IRS on Media Trackers, he thought of trying to fold the project into a preexisting organization: He was on the board of Greenhouse Solutions, which wasn’t being made much use of at the time. Greenhouse Solutions, as Drew figured at the time, would have two things going for it at the IRS’s now-infamous Cincinnati office: 1) It already existed, had been filing paperwork since 2007, and was now applying for permanent status and 2) it sounded “innocuous,” “vanilla,” if not explicitly leftist.

What did “Greenhouse” mean? Drew’s a man of the land from the heartland who values the importance of environmental stewardship. He literally helps things grow as an avocation — from plants to conservative grassroots groups. In its first iteration, Greenhouse Solutions wasn’t well-funded, so it wasn’t all that active, but it had managed to do some of what it sought to do: help tea-party groups establish themselves long-term by helping with the legal paperwork. The name was both “true to the mission” and had going for it what liberal groups do so well: It could operate under the hyper-partisan radar. Little did he know how handy that name would be. He figures whoever got the Greenhouse paperwork didn’t run his name through a computer and make the connection, and so rubberstamped it through.

For the record: The name “Nixon” never came up in our conversation. But he has handed documents over to the House Oversight Committee, and he does wonder if this might be the day “the flat-tax people” have been waiting for and whether this scandal has opened other doors. He thinks taking on the IRS could ultimately be “a 90 percent issue” given the IRS’s unpopularity.


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