Political Radar

Provide details

May 16th, 2013

So what kind of questions did the Internal Revenue Service demand when vetting tea party groups for tax-exempt status?

Very odd ones.

A copy of a January 2012 letter from the IRS exempt organizations office in Cincinnati to the Hawaii Tea Party on Maui shows that the federal government not only wanted to know whether the fledgling tea party group had ties with Republicans, but wanted the group to turn over training material received from Republican interests.

The IRS asked the Hawaii Tea Party to provide details about a relationship with The Leadership Institute, a Virginia-based advocacy group that trains conservative activists, and for copies of the institute's training material.

The IRS also asked for details about the group's relationship with Dylan Nonaka, along with copies of any training material used by Nonaka.

While the letter asks about Nonaka by name, it does not describe him. Nonaka is the former executive director of the Hawaii Republican Party and a Republican strategist. The letter also does not describe how Nonaka's -- or The Leadership Institute's -- training material is relevant to whether the Hawaii Tea Party was a social welfare organization eligible for tax-exempt status.

"Targeting groups wishing to express their First Amendment right is an act of tyranny by our federal government," Nonaka said Thursday in an email. "I am disappointed in the silence from our governor and congressional delegation on the deliberate targeting of Hawaii citizens. This is a nonpartisan issue. The federal government infringing on our fundamental constitutional rights is unacceptable."

5 Responses to “Provide details”

  1. Kolea:

    If conservative political groups were targeted for greater scrutiny than liberal ones, that is wrong. But I do not see, on its face, how the questions described here are improper. A 501 c4, as a non-profit, is required to have, as its primary activity, "the promotion of social welfare." While they can engage in campaigns and lobbying on issues, that is not supposed to be their primary function.

    Recent years have seen the creation of "social welfare" groups which have served as arms of the political parties and campaigns. The system is being abused, especially since the Citizens United ruling unleashed a floodgate of money. Just as "independent" non-candiate committees are not supposed to coordinate with official campaigns, neither are 501 c 4s.

    Part of the problem is that ideological groups, like political campaigns and parties, tend to think their particular agenda represents the true interests of the broader public, so this standard, of working to promote the general public welfare, is inherently subjective.

    In addition, while some "Tea Party" organizations are genuinely independent, the movement has been wracked by conflicts between grassroot members and Republican Establishment operatives who have sought to control them. That is no secret. Because of the explosion of money flowing into "Tea Party" organizations in a very short time and the attempt of Republicans to work to make sure the TP operatives do not work to defeat more mainstream "RINO" candidates, it is not surprising such organizations are receiving more scrutiny than groups on the left. The groups on the left are not as dynamic nor have they proven as effective a threat to Establishment Democrats as the TP groups have on the right. Hence, there has been less need to "manage" them through control of the cashflow.

  2. Andy Parx:

    You bet Kolea- it's no secret that the Republican Party poured cash and other resopurces into forming these Tea Party 501(c)4s. There are dozens of excellent investigative reports out there showing the3 connections.
    You'd think the national media would take 10 seconds to do some real reporting on direct R involvement in setting up these Tea Party c4s to funnel Koch-type money into campaigns instead of the usual "he said she said" junk "reporting."

  3. Kolea:

    OK. I have read and thought more about this. While the right may have been the first to push the boundaries on 501 c4 abuses, the Democrats have quickly followed and are abusing this as well. It is not just Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS which claims to be a "social welfare organization," thereby being exempt from paying taxes and not having to disclose their donors. It is also groups like "Organizing for Action (OFA)", which until recently was "Organizing for America (OFA)" and, before that, "Obama for America (OFA)." It is totally controlled by Obama political operatives and works hand-in-glove with Democratic organizations.

    If we insist "independent non-candidate campaign organizations" to not "co-ordinate" with candidates, and if we insist churches, as a condition of their tax-exempt status, not endorse political candidates, we have to insist these 501 c4 organizations not serve as adjuncts to the political parties and election campaigns.

    Yes, Republican interests were pumping money into these Tea Party operations, but only someone blinded by ideology would fail to notice groups aligned with the Democrats were doing the same thing. And that these Tea Party and so-called "Patriot" groups were targeted for partisan reasons. It is always easier to see your own allies as serving a "public welfare" function while seeing your ideological opponents as serving "special interests."

    ALL 501 c4s should be scrutinized, not just those on the right.

  4. Especially Incognito:

    Seems one provides assumptions and approximations.

    Any threat should be looked at.
    Either that or Stand Tough for Understanding.

  5. Goober:

    I will have the last laugh if it is a conservative creating
    all this trouble in IRS.

    No one is saying if a conservative or liberal is
    in the office. It seems that the conservatives
    are just blowing wind with a posterior motive.
    To me the conservatives or liberals are just passing
    gas. My tax dollars do not pay for tea party but
    to Democrats or Republicans.

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