Posts Tagged ‘Morton Blackwell’
May 17th, 2013 at 4:08 pm
The Left’s Two Canards About the IRS Scandal

A friend who wishes to remain nameless, somebody without known connection to the stories herein, first  identified the two “canards” I discuss below.

The background is this: In addition to deliberately targeting conservative groups to keep them from receiving tax-exempt status, the IRS also — according to an increasing number of reports — was also increasingly harassing existing conservative groups with invasive, expensive audits, no matter how thin (or non-existent) the reasons for suddenly claiming an audit was appropriate. It turns out that the good folks at the venerable Leadership Institute were among those targeted for such an audit, as LI reports here.

What the IRS asked the Leadership Institute

Copies of applications for internships and summer programs; to include: lists of those selected for internships and students in 2008.
— In regards to such internships, please provide information regarding where the interns physically worked and how the placement was arranged.
— After completing internships and courses, where were the students and interns employed?……

This is just one of the examples LI gives in its report of the obnoxious and irrelevant data demanded by the IRS. It’s also chilling: What was the IRS planning to do with its list of names?

Quote from LI founder and president Morton Blackwell: ”

“The IRS’ indefensible behavior is worse than we first thought, as it targeted both new and existing conservative groups in politically motivated attacks,” said Morton Blackwell, president of the Leadership Institute. “Fortunately my Leadership Institute had the resources to stand up to the government’s bullying and intimidation. Other groups, including grassroots and tea party groups we’ve helped train, did not.  Defending ourselves from the harassing audit cost my organization more than $50,000 in legal fees alone.”

This is inexcusable. Anybody who has ever dealt with Morton Blackwell knows just how fastidiously he has observed all relevant regulations for the more than three decades LI has been in operation. He will not discuss partisan political organizing on his LI email. As the longtime Republican National Committeeman from Virginia, Blackwell is well known for leaving LI’s offices to go use a phone elsewhere in order to avoid using LI phone lines when on RNC calls. Again and again and again, Blackwell has made clear to everybody at LI, and all those who deal with him while he is in LI offices, that certain rules prohibit LI from direct partisan or overtly political activity. After thirty years of this, surely the IRS should have known this about the IRS.

Nonetheless, the audit came. And it was unlawfully invasive. Indeed, so obsessed was the IRS with LI that it even demanded the following from The Hawaii Tea Party in a January 26, 2012 letter: “Provide details regarding your relationship with the Leadership Institute. Provide copies of their training material.”

Huh? Why is a Hawaii Tea Party being asked about connections with LI, as if LI is some nefarious organization? This is sickening.

NOW, HERE’S THE RUB: There have been two excuses offered by hardened lefties for why (they say) the IRS scandal isn’t really much of a scandal at all. First is the idea that the poor overworked IRS employees were just trying to figure how to deal with such a huge surge in 501(c)(4) applications and that it was all these new requests that caused the problem. But… the audits of LI and others (granted, the audits came from a different division, but that means there should be ANOTHER investigation, of those) had nothing to do with new applications. And, as this story shows, even the new applications weren’t rising. So this whole excuse completely falls apart.

Secondly, to quote my aforementioned friend: “LI is a 501c3. The other lefty narrative has been that this is about 501c4s, these legal structures that have a new life since Citizens United. Lefty legal people say ‘501c3 law is SO WELL UNDERSTOOD and NO ONE UNDERSTANDS 501c4 law.’ So the Citizens United thing is a canard. This is just about using the IRS to intimidate enemies.”

I hope that makes sense. In other words, the argument that the IRS officials were confused because they were dealing with different regs (the c4 ones) than they were accustomed to (the c3 ones) is absurd, at least as far as the audits of LI and others were concerned — because LI was a c3!

Finally, it’s worth noting that the 501(c)(4) spending was not, despite Obama’s and others’ complaints, driven by the famous Citizens United case that Obama loves to castigate; instead, even according to the left’sown favorite election-related lawyer, Rick Hasen, that spending rose as a result of the Wisconsin Right to Life case from two years earlier.

In all, there remains no excuse for the targeting of Tea Parties, of other conservative organizations, or the auditing of conservative organizations and individuals. All the excuses offered so far are as thin as gossamer, and not even as strong.