Sens. Franken, Schumer urged IRS to probe groups’ campaign activities
Sen. Al Franken,D-Minn., Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and five other Democratic Party U.S. Senators sent a secret memorandum to former Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Doug Schulman in February 2012, to learns if his investigators planned to probe social welfare organizations that participated in political causes and issues-based campaigns.
The letter sent to Schulman in March had a more stern tone and recommendations for cracking down on "questionable practices."
The senators stated that certain groups should have to disclose up front, on all written and online solicitations that get sent to potential contributors, how much of their activities could be considered political.
The Franken, Schumer and the other senators said this would make it clear to potential donors how much of a tax deduction, if any, they could claim on their tax returns.
In the aftermath of the IRS scandal hitting the nation's newsrooms -- that the IRS targeted numerous tea party and conservative groups for extra scrutiny during the tax-exempt status application process -- a probe of the IRS has been met with stiff resistance by Democrats in Washington, D.C., who have tried everything including attempts to pin blame on former-President George W. Bush.
"It's almost comical to hear the lies and half-truths coming out of the mouths of Democrat lawmakers and the Obama White House," said Norman LaCross, a tax attorney in New Jersey.
On Thursday, Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Minn., said that Franken's comments have contributed to a culture within the Beltway that allowed such targeting.
During an appearance on CNN on Monday, Sen. Franken called for a "non-partisan" inquiry into all 501(c)(4) groups.
Franken spoke out at a press conference on March 21, 2012, where he told the media: "I think that there hasn't been enforcement by the FEC and the IRS... That's pretty hinky. I mean, they really aren't doing that, and that I think there needs to be a look at that..," according to the Conservative Campaign Committee.
Last year's letters -- signed by Al Franken, Chuck Schumer of New York and several others -- do not request that the IRS specifically target tea party or conservative groups. It was also sent more than a year after the IRS began targeting the groups.
However, they did stress that the IRS should already possess the authority to issue immediate guidance on this matter. We urge the IRS to take these steps immediately to prevent abuse of the tax code by political groups focused on federal election activities. But if the IRS is unable to issue administrative guidance in this area then we plan to introduce legislation to accomplish these important changes.