TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, December 15, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 585

IRS Logo 2San Diego Union-Tribune:  Is AG Ignoring Lessons From IRS Scandal?:

A Virginia-based conservative group filed a federal First Amendment lawsuit this week accusing California Attorney General Kamala Harris of engaging in the kind of activity that was the subject of the recent scandal involving the Internal Revenue Service. Are state officials trying to chill the speech of conservative nonprofits?

“Not only did IRS employees improperly target groups based on politics, but they also improperly demanded a host of details about the groups’ activities, according to a report on the abuses by a Treasury Department inspector general,” according to a Washington Post report about the federal scandal. The IRS even demanded information about some of these groups’ smallest donors.

Now the Americans for Prosperity Foundation is saying the state of California is improperly demanding information about its donors – and is threatening unusually harsh penalties if the group doesn’t comply. One other conservative group has filed a separate lawsuit against the attorney general, which is now in the Ninth Circuit. ...

Harris has long been touted as a rising national political star. If so, then she ought to learn some lessons from a scandal that gave the IRS such a black eye.

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Comments

The IRS BOLO targeting “scandal” has now morphed into an indicator of purported government misconduct–with accompanying widely-ballyhooed lawsuit–whenever a conservative group is investigated, denied a privilege, or even asked for standard and customary information when applying for a privilege. The CCP case involves an application for the California state version of 501(c)(3) status, meaning the CCP wants to be able not only to be free of California income taxes, but also to be authorized to confer tax deductions on its donors. Claiming “conservative” political leanings is not and should not be a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Dec 15, 2014 7:03:10 AM

The AFP Foundation case referenced above is about a well established entity that has been filing its forms with California since 2001 and only this year has had those forms rejected because they do not include donor lists. There does not seem to be any regulatory change justifying the change in policy. With a recent history of activists going after conservative donors, it's not reasonable to give the California AG the benefit of the doubt.

Posted by: TMLutas | Dec 15, 2014 9:02:04 AM

I am sure Publius is upset that the groups organizing the latest round of Democrat militant activism don't have to disclose their donors.

A good thing to know about today's post, is whether or not all groups have to give up their donor lists or if this is just another example of Democrats acting out authoritarian fantasies by using government agencies as opposition research and using persecution to intimidate non-Democrats from enjoying the same rights and privileges that Democrats so generously bestow on themselves.

Posted by: wodun | Dec 15, 2014 2:33:28 PM