Echoing CFIF, today's Wall Street Journal board editorial applauds Federal Communications Commission…
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WSJ Applauds FCC Chairman Pai, Commissioner Carr in Support of T-Mobile/Sprint Merger

Echoing CFIF, today's Wall Street Journal board editorial applauds Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai's and Commissioner Brendan Carr's expressions of support for the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger:

By joining forces, T-Mobile and Sprint will be better positioned to compete against wireless leaders Verizon and AT&T in the 5G era.   Sprint is sitting on loads of mid-band spectrum that boosts wireless speeds while T-Mobile boasts ample low-band spectrum that provides coverage.  The combination is likely to provide a faster, denser network."

As they rightly conclude, "government penalties pale next to the powerful market incentives that already exist for Sprint and T-Mobile to rapidly build out their networks lest they lose market share to Verizon, AT&T, cable…[more]

May 21, 2019 • 11:36 am

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Jester's CourtroomLegal tales stranger than stranger than fiction: Ridiculous and sometimes funny lawsuits plaguing our courts.
Eric Schneiderman Proves the Need for IRS Reform and Donor Privacy Protection Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, May 24 2018
The IRS is actually prohibited from using the form's information for any substantive purpose. Which raises the question of why it's collected at all, since it only serves to open the door for abuse by people like Schneiderman.

This isn't another commentary piling on disgraced former New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose shockingly abusive behavior toward women was exposed in recent days. 

Schneiderman's private life, however, wasn't the only realm in which he grossly abused his power.  His behavior in his official capacity was equally atrocious. 

As just one example, he commenced a lawless climate change crusade by suing Exxon and private nonprofit Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).  As part of that suit, along with Virgin Islands Attorney General (yes, they apparently have one) Claude Walker, he demanded access to CEI's confidential donor names, emails and other sensitive internal records to which he wasn't entitled.

That was all part of an effort to use the force of law to intimidate CEI and others, and infringe upon their First Amendment right to participate in the marketplace of ideas. 

Episodes like that show that Schneiderman, and activist attorneys general like him, abuse their official law enforcement power to silence people and organizations they politically oppose. 

Unfortunately, an obscure and unnecessary federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requirement facilitates the potential for abuse by people like Schneiderman and other federal, state and local officials. 

Specifically, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) currently compels private nonprofit organizations to file a "990 Schedule B" form.  Among other sensitive private information, that form contains the names, addresses and other identifying information on many people who simply choose to donate their own money to those organizations.  In turn, that obviously creates the risk that such donors can be exposed and targeted by federal, state and local officials for their donations. 

Here's the particularly odd part.  The IRS is actually prohibited from using the form's information for any substantive purpose.  Which raises the question of why it's collected at all, since it only serves to open the door for abuse by people like Schneiderman. 

In addition to creating a risk of abuse by IRS or other government officials, there's also the risk that outside hackers with a political vendetta will access and exploit the information for nefarious ends.  And that is exactly what has occurred.  Recently, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) had its confidential donor data leaked under such suspicious circumstances. 

That's precisely why both the previous IRS Commissioner and IRS Exempt Organizations Director publicly questioned the need for the Schedule B form in 2015, and acknowledged that the IRS stood unable to guarantee the confidentiality of the information contained in those forms. 

It's simply inescapable that collection of sensitive information on Schedule B forms by the IRS only serves to chill Americans' First Amendment freedoms of speech, association and political participation. 

Fortunately, Congress and the Trump Administration can put an end to this IRS avenue for abuse. 

Earlier this year, the House of Representatives introduced the Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act, H.R. 4916, which would eliminate the Schedule B filing requirement.  The House passed identical legislation in the last Congress, so there's even more reason to pass it now with a President Trump willing to sign it. 

Obviously, a permanent legislative fix through H.R. 4916 would be ideal.  In the meantime, however, nonprofit organizations and their donors remain vulnerable to targeting.  So until Congress passes it, the Trump Administration can act. 

Namely, the current IRS under Trump Administration leadership can commence a rulemaking to eliminate the Schedule B collection mandate.  Because Congress has never adopted a requirement that the IRS collect the Schedule B forms for most exempt nonprofit organizations, eliminating it lies within the IRS's authority.  The Treasury Department and IRS decided to require Schedule B collection to all exempt organizations independently of Congress, so they can similarly eliminate the requirement in the same way that the Trump Administration has eliminated other regulations imposed through Barack Obama's "pen and phone" fiat. 

Until then, abusers like Eric Schneiderman at the federal, state and local levels will remain more capable of persecuting American citizens. 

There is simply no justification in law, logic or fairness for the IRS to continue collecting sensitive data through its Schedule B form on private citizens who simply exercise their First Amendment freedoms of speech and association.  It's time for Congress and the White House to exercise their authority to eliminate the Schedule B mandate once and for all. 

Question of the Week   
Americans are asked to observe a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. annually on which one of the following days?
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Quote of the Day   
 
"Among the most important roles of the federal courts is to serve as a check and balance on the excesses of other branches of government, including the legislature. The courts should look beneath the claimed justifications for investigations of individuals and decide whether these justifications represent the real reasons behind the issuance of subpoenas and other exercises of congressional power.…[more]
 
 
—Alan M. Dershowitz, Harvard Law School Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus
— Alan M. Dershowitz, Harvard Law School Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus
 
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Is President Trump right or wrong to curtail negotiations on infrastructure planning until Congress stops its myriad investigations of the president?