A conservative columnist and political pundit finds it "scary" that the IRS has yanked the tax-exempt status of a conservative group simply because it has criticized members of the Obama administration.
USA Today has reported that the Internal Revenue Service has revoked the tax-exempt status of a conservative charity for making statements critical of Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. According to an IRS statement released last week, the Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty, based in Manassas, Virginia, "has shown a pattern of deliberate and consistent intervention in political campaigns" and made "repeated statements supporting or opposing various candidates by expressing its opinion of the respective candidate's character and qualifications."
The IRS attributes the forfeiture of the Center's tax-exempt status to political op-eds written in 2004 and 2005 by its founder, Gary Aldrich, who is a former FBI agent. In the op-eds cited, he refers to Kerry as a "coward" and to his ability as a presidential candidate to attract the following of "registered ignoramuses"; and to the need to inform voters of Hillary Clinton's "atrocious conduct."
Robert Knight is a senior fellow at the American Civil Rights Union and a columnist for OneNewsNow and The Washington Times. He says this smacks of more selective enforcement.
"If this conservative organization loses its tax exemption merely for having opinionated columns on its website, then what about all those left-wing organizations that have stuff that's even more opinionated; in fact, [that are] incendiary? We never seem to see them have their tax status threatened," he notes.
The conservative columnist says it looks like the IRS is now going after existing conservative tax-exempt groups rather than just denying new tax-exempt applications.
"This is the IRS doubling down," he tells OneNewsNow. "They get caught targeting the tea parties; then they come up with a rule that makes it even easier to target tea parties. They back off on that rule, but meanwhile apparently they're going after existing organizations. It's kind of scary."
Knight argues that Congress needs to step in and thoroughly investigate this latest IRS attack on the free-speech rights of conservative organizations.
The tax-exempt status of the Patrick Henry Center was officially revoked in early February, but news of it wasn't released until last Friday.