My organization Citizens United, with over 500,000 grassroots members, is synonymous with defending free speech. The political establishment has always tried to protect the political class by silencing criticism through the force of law, but in 2010 we defeated them in front of the Supreme Court. We have a winning track record, which frightens the left.
Being able to speak out in the public square was an essential liberty for our Founding Fathers, which is why they enshrined it in our First Amendment. So many men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice fighting to protect these rights which we hold sacred; we will not stand for politicians seeking to strip us of them.
We have seen in the era of President Barack Obama that none of our constitutional rights are safe. During the last presidential election cycle, Obama’s Internal Revenue Service, through a well-organized network of unelected bureaucrats, singled-out and harassed conservative organizations by questioning their tax status. Well established conservative advocacy and educational organizations, along with newly formed groups which had words such as “Patriot” or “Tea Party” in their name, were sent large lists of questions to answer. These questions ranged from membership lists to requesting the transcripts of opening prayers at meetings. For anyone who has received a letter from the IRS, you know just how frightening they can be, and this is not lost on those targeting these organizations. When leftists and Democratic-donors run the Federal government, it is clear that they have no problem using the IRS in far worse ways than described in President Richard Nixon’s articles of impeachment.
After a series of resignations, the IRS is now proposing new rules governing 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organizations, in yet another effort to limit their right to free speech. Under current law, such organizations are allowed to advocate during political campaigns so long as it is not coordinated with candidates, nor can it be the organization’s primary purpose. The new rules, however, will change all that by keeping organizations you donate to from being involved in civic engagement. The rules that currently protect these organizations have been unchanged since 1959. But now, the proposed IRS rules would reclassify all of these protected activities as overtly political and in doing so, will regulate those organizations out of existence.
Of course the new rule changes will not target 501(c)(5)s, because those organizations are labor unions, which donate hundreds of millions of dollars to Democrats every year. This only goes to show just how political this act by the IRS is at its core: it’s not about regulating all of these organizations; it’s about regulating the organizations that don’t support the Democrat Party’s liberal agenda.
The IRS is supposed to be the agency that collects revenue, but this rule change has nothing to do with revenue. Instead, these changes are about creating new campaign finance rules. Unlike the Federal Elections Commission, the IRS is not structured with the bipartisan safeguards and a detailed enforcement process. Through this process, bureaucrats in the IRS through the regulatory process will have usurped the power of congress and be allowed to arbitrarily shut down organizations with whom they disagree.
This is why Citizens United has joined the over 76,000 people who have submitted comments on the proposed new rules to the IRS which you can readhere. We are warning the IRS to withdraw these regulatory changes, and Citizens United is willing to litigate this matter. Just like in 2010, the Constitution is on our side.
We aren’t the only ones fighting this egregious attempt at overreach by the IRS. H.R. 3865, sponsored Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act of 2014, which just passed through the Ways and Means committee, will prevent these rules from being implemented. It is essential for all conservatives to stand with House Republicans and fight to defend our constitutional rights because without them our nation falters.