Proposed IRS Regs: A War on the Tea Party with Force of Law

Carol Platt Liebau

12/13/2013 8:00:00 AM - Carol Platt Liebau

On November 27, this Townhall post discussed proposed new IRS rules that are, essentially, a "continuation of the agency's war against administration critics."

Today, Kimberly Strassel has more. It was obvious from the start that the rule was intended to silence the tea parties -- already having been illegitimately targeted by The White House. What's becoming more apparent -- and highlights the abusive nature of the Obama administration -- is that the proposed regs seem almost "reverse engineered" to disproportionately harm tea party groups:

"The committee has reviewed thousands of tax exempt applications," says House Ways & Means Chairman Dave Camp. "The new regulation so closely mirrors the abused tea-party group applications, it leads me to question if this new proposed regulation is simply another form of targeting."

In other words, rather than targeting the tea parties at the back end -- through ad hoc hassling, unreasonable and intrusive requests for information, and deliberate delay of approval applications -- it seems that the IRS is now trying to target the tea parties from the front end, setting up regulations that would make it practically impossible for them (and them alone) to function. For example, educating the public on the Constitution (a function of many tea party groups) would now constitute "political activity" preventing 501(c)(4) status. Yet the liberal League of Women Voters could keep 501(c)(3) status despite engaging in activities like actually hosting candidates' fora.

It is unprecedented for any administration (at least in modern memory) so overtly -- and shamelessly -- to harass law-abiding critics from exercising the liberties the Constitution was intended to secure. And these new regs make it clear that the corruption, politicization and rot at the IRS extend far beyond the little band of officials named in the earlier tea party targeting scandal.

The question is what can Congress do about it.