RSC Members Huddle with Cleta Mitchell to Discuss IRS Plan

by Betsy Woodruff

In a closed-door meeting this morning, about a dozen members of the Republican Study Committee and 40 staffers met with attorney Cleta Mitchell for a briefing about the IRS targeting scandal.

“We’re not letting up,” RSC chairman Steve Scalise told me afterward.

“If you make one mistake then [the IRS is] going to rain on you,” he added. “And yet they lie to Congress and they think they can get away with this.”

In a handout members received, Mitchell listed what they could do next, suggesting, for one, that members assign at least one staffer to keep track of the evidence and monitor the hearings on the scandal.

“Don’t let the IRS and the Obama administration make you lose interest in this scandal,” she wrote. She also noted that members should insist on “regular updates at GOP Conference meetings from the House Committees investigating the IRS.”

“For pete’s sake, we are conservatives, the IRS is in the crosshairs – do not let this become just another ‘issue,’” her memo explained.

The handout also offered members a few possible legislative solutions, including prohibiting the unionization of IRS employees and reforming the tax code to curtail the scope, size, and power of the IRS.

Mitchell, who works with conservative groups facing IRS abuse, also charged Democrats with “perpetrating several ‘myths’ to divert attention from the truth, including the following FALSE statements offered in the House Committee hearings”:

“Progressive groups also were subjected to the same scrutiny”.  False.  A subset of liberal groups (with ‘progress’ or ‘progressive’ in their names) were initially ‘screened’ but then released and processed normally.   Compare that to 100% of the groups with the BOLO terms in their names or missions.  None of the liberal groups were held in legal limbo for years as conservative groups were and still are being held.

“This is all because of Citizens United to avoid donor disclosure.”  The vast majority of the targeted tea party groups are tiny, ‘mom and pop’ organizations who sprang up to oppose Obamacare and reduce the deficit and size of government.  They did not apply for c4 status to avoid disclosure of their donors. Most of them don’t have major donors in the first place

“This is all because of Citizens United which caused a huge increase in the number of applications.”  There was not a huge increase in the number of applications for c4 status.  In fact, when the IRS began the targeting in 2010, the number of applications for c4 status was actually lower than in 2009.  See…

“501(c)(4) organizations should not be allowed to make any political expenditures”.  Under current law, 501(c)(4) rules for political activities are the same as those for most other 501(c) organizations except for 501(c)(3) entities, which are prohibited from making any expenditure for intervention in a political campaign.  That includes 501c5 organizations:  labor unions.  The Wall Street Journal reported in 2012 that labor unions spent approximately $3.3 billion dollars from their treasury funds (NOT their PACs) on politics between 2005 and 2011.  It isn’t the 501(c)(4) groups who are making the big political expenditures…it is the labor unions.

Scalise tells me that over August recess members will reach out to constituents to learn more about their experiences with IRS targeting.

“It was an insult for President Obama yesterday to call these phony scandals,” he said. “The president ought to be chastising the IRS, instead of defending them for targeting Americans.”

The Corner

The one and only.