Saturday, June 15, 2013


IRS targeting presumed political points of view is not exactly new.  Several years ago Bill O'Reilly indicated on his very popular nightly news/opinion show on FOX that he would "go to his grave" to figure out how Jesse Jackson and Rainbow PUSH Coalition raised money.  I don't recall now what inflammatory opinion of Rev. Jackson's set him off.  But he was livid.  He invited his audience to contact the IRS and demand an audit. And they complied.  The IRS agents wasted no time paying a visit to the Chicago headquarters of Rainbow PUSH and its charitable affiliate, CEF.  They found very little.  The money was raised the old fashioned way...asking people with money to donate.  CEF's charitable 501 c 3 status was challenged, but ultimately upheld.  It was a little surprising when IRS agents produced news clips quoting Rev. as he barnstormed college campuses for voter registration.They found that his standard "stay out of the bushes" quip crossed the non-partisan line and since CEF works closely with RPC, it got a rap across the knuckles and a substantial fine.  Not to mention the legal fees that were racked up.  We did strengthen the fire walls of independence between CEF's voter education and RPC's advocacy,

It never occurred to us to holler foul, or to flop.  We meant to influence public policy.  It was almost a badge of honor.  After all Dr. King had been targeted by the IRS. 

This occurred during the old days before Citizens United when 501 c organizations were not supposed to influence partisan elections and money had not been alchemized into speech.    We were not the only ones.  During the same period, the NAACP, National Urban League and some big black Baptist churches on the west coast all had protracted dealings with the IRS.  The prevailing attitude at the time was, 'of course we are being targeted' - they don't like our politics and we don't like theirs.  For the Tea Party and other ultra-right groups to pretend that they had not declared their intention to undo progressive public policy is frankly, ludicrous. If you think I have fallen and bumped my head, read "IRS targeting goes back decades, houses of worship have been main targets"

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