Congress Hears From Conservative Groups Who Were Forced By Jackbooted IRS Thugs to Fill Out Forms:
Yesterday, the House Ways and Means Committee held hearing number 750 or so on whether or not the IRS forced poor mom and pop political organizations to fill out too many forms so that they could be tax-exempt groups that keep their donors secret and thus get all the free money they can con out of people. The horrible burden was best expressed by the testimony of Karen Kenny of the San Fernando Valley Patriots, which is affiliated with the Tea Party Patriots.
The SFVP describes itself thusly: "Our aim is to promote–by education and political action–American principles of Liberty, Limited Government and the Free-Market in this Valley of 2 million just north of Los Angeles, CA." Just to be clear: the group itself says that it is engaged in "political action." Indeed, in its "Declaration" of purpose, it lists, "Defeat Republicans and Democrats that pervert or deny this Nation's founding principles. We are weary of corruption." And yet the IRS is a hideous monster because it wanted to be sure that it wasn't engaged in political activity in order to receive 501(c)(4) status. Now, you might think saying flat out that you are going to defeat politicians who disagree with you and that you take part in political action clearly points to an engagement in political activity. Well, fuck you, you hater of America. This chilling form-filing is like McCarthyism times Stalinism plus Hitler to the 4th power.
But, shit, why not let Karen Kenny speak for herself. Here's a sample from her opening statement to the committee: "In October 2010, the San Fernando Valley Patriots, a not-for- profit corporation in California applied with the Internal Revenue Service for a 501(c)(4) status as a tax-exempt social welfare organization...We heard nothing until February 2012, when I received a packet from the IRS exempt organizations office in Cincinnati, Ohio, which included a questionnaire with 35 items divided into 80 sub-points of inquiry. A cover letter indicated that we had 20 days to comply without penalty, including penalties of perjury for failure to answer all questions with facts that are true, correct and complete.
"Generally the questions were a demand, read like the chilling words from the 1950s, are you now or have you ever been? The IRS sought documentation of our meetings, rallies, events or candidate forums. That included video and audio transcriptions, notes, copies of all handouts, the political parties of speakers and an issues list."
And more, goddamnit, more information than anyone could provide, like "The IRS sought EINs and details on our association's tax-exempt organizations. These are our teachers. They have names -- the Heritage Foundation, FreedomWorks and the National Center for Constitutional Studies, where we learn American history; the Tea Party Patriots, where we learn grassroots skills; and the West Valley Food Pantry, our charity." Yes, how dare the IRS want your tax i.d.'s.
But Kenny knows who the villains are: "This dialogue is about the jackboot of tyranny upon the field of our founding documents. To whisper the letters I-R-S strikes a shrill note on Main Street, USA. But when this behemoth tramples upon America's grassroots, few hear the snapping sounds."
Being a good patriot, Kenny also knows when to invoke the Big Guy: "Vox populi, vox dei (the voice of the people is the voice of God) is irresistible, but different in America. Our voice belongs to the free individual, not to the collective mob. Our voice is best heard when power kneels then whispers to liberty, 'Strength.' And when liberty stands under heaven, it shouts to power, 'Freedom.'"
And if you read that and thought, "What the fuck is this stupid asshole talking about? She's fucking incoherent," then you bite the heads off baby bald eagles.
Essentially, what happened is that, in the wake of Citizens United, a bunch of little groups decided that they wanted to try to jump on the train of tax-free glory, so each of these bullshit teabagger conclaves called themselves "social welfare" and applied for tax exempt status in order to teabag in as many ways as possible. But, lo and behold, an overworked, understaffed government agency can sometimes work slowly (talk to the INS about that shit). And, lo and behold again, the government wasn't rubber-stamping every group. Ask the 226 other groups that had to fill out extra forms.
Guess what? Sometimes forms are hard to fill out. Sometimes you need lawyers and others to do it. Sometimes, when you're a pipsqueak organization that wants to play with the big kids, you're not gonna be able to handle paperwork. Kenny admitted that she doesn't know what the fuck she's talking about when she was asked by Congressman Kind if she knew the difference between social welfare activities and political activities. Kenny answered, " I can only answer from my own experience since I'm not a lawyer. My experience is we were obeying the law. And our personal group is about education, about the political process."
Except, of course, by the group's own admission, it's not.
In the hearing, Kenny seems to indicate that she gave up: "I stopped the costly and exhausting IRS process in July 2012. We survive on my credit card and donations in our cake tin. Like patriots before us, we persevere."
But on the website of the San Fernando Valley Patriots, it says that the group "operates as a social welfare organization organized under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code."
Man, jackboots don't press as hard as they used to.