, Newburyport, MA


May 5, 2014

Editorial: A look at what others are saying

The following are excerpts of editorials from other newspapers across New England:

The Internal Revenue Service has been politicized in the Obama era. It harassed conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status between 2010 and 2012, and unfortunately, it appears the politicization remains alive.

The IRS has revoked the tax-exempt status of the Patrick Henry Center, a Virginia-based conservative group governed by Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS’ code; this section covers “charitable organizations.” According to IRS rules, 501(c)(3)s can’t “participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”

The IRS noted that a decade ago, the Henry Center published “Alerts” on its website that informed viewers of columns by the group’s founder, retired FBI agent Gary Aldrich. Aldrich’s columns encouraged people to vote for George W. Bush in his 2004 re-election bid; vote against Democratic candidate John Kerry; and thwart Hillary Rodham Clinton during her 2006 U.S. Senate re-election bid and any future presidential campaign.

The episode reeks of politics.

It is odd that the tax agency went after the Henry Center for 10-year-old doings. It could be that the politics-obsessed Obama administration fears the center will effectively rile voters up against Democrats, and is desperate to hamstring it.

While the actions described by the IRS apparently broke the rules for 501(c)(3)s, the Henry Center shouldn’t have been organized under that section anyway. It was a perfect fit for another section aimed at “social welfare organizations.” If the IRS were truly apolitical, it would have encouraged the Henry Center to re-apply for tax-exempt status. Unfortunately, there is no evidence it has done so.

The tax system will not work if politics guides IRS decisions. The Henry Center affair demonstrates the Obama administration will keep up the politicization. That’s not consistent with “hope and change.”

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