August 22, 2013
THE PLAIN TEXT OF THE LAW:A Novel Approach to Campaign Finance Reform (Robert Schlesinger, August 21, 2013, US News)
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., has hit on a novel way to get at the issue of secret money flowing into political campaigns: following the law. It seems that the Internal Revenue Service's rules regarding how much political activity a 501(c)4 group can engage in and still retain tax exempt status doesn't actually comply with how the relevant law is written. So Van Hollen and a couple of campaign finance reform activist groups are suing the IRS and the Treasury Department to get them to do what the law says. [...]
The real problem, he said, is that while "the law as it was written by Congress could not be more plain," it's not being executed. "It says that 501(c)4 tax exempts status is reserved for organizations that are 'exclusively' - that's a quote - exclusively engaged in social welfare" activities, he said. In the late 1950s, however, "that plain English meaning somehow got tortured, somehow got twisted" when the standard was set at being primarily involved in political activities.
The real scandal is that the IRS was eventually granting the exemption to Tea Party groups.
Posted by Orrin Judd at August 22, 2013 12:15 PM
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