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Durbin Threatens Critics With Audit

Because nothing says "free speech" quite like some intimidation from the IRS.

(CNSNews.com) - A conservative advocacy group says it will not be intimidated by pressure from Sen. Dick Durbin's office.

Move America Forward, a group that supports the U.S. military and wants to eject the United Nations from the United States, is currently running broadcast ads criticizing Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, for comparing U.S. troops at Guantanamo Bay to Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or mad regimes like Pol Pot's.

"But these aren't the faces of torturers, the ad says: "They're the heroic men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. They're our sons and daughters fighting for the cause of freedom around the world. Support our troops, at MoveAmericaForward.com."

Durbin's office is trying to silence Move America Forward, the group says, by hinting to an Illinois newspaper (the Northwest Herald of Crystal Lake) that the Internal Revenue Service should audit Move America Forward.

Someone from Durbin's office was quoted as telling the newspaper - in connection with Move America Forward -- "Have you ever seen that H&R Block commercial where the guy leans in and says, 'I see an audit'?"

Here's the article referred to above from the Northwest Herald. Apparently the issues with the IRS surround Move America Forward's application for status as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Groups falling under that tax classification are prohibited from running political ads.

Of course, there's an argument to be made for defining what a political ad is and is not. If Move America Forward's ads don't endorse a specific candidate can they be considered political advertising? Does public criticism of a federal politician, in the form of a televising commercial, fall under this definition?

I don't think so. And in light of that, I think this move by Durbin is fairly thuggish.

Move America Forward is not a group I'm familiar with, but certainly they should be allowed to run advertising critical of a politician without having to suffer retaliation in the form of undue investigation into finances.

Rob Port is the owner and operator of Say Anything.


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Comments (6)

It's a real surprise a sena... (Below threshold)
earth:

It's a real surprise a senator is trying to strongarm the competition. All this time I thought they all played by truth, justice and the American way.

No, earth, that was Superma... (Below threshold)
fatman:

No, earth, that was Superman.

A 501(c)3 classification is... (Below threshold)
Michael Seifert:

A 501(c)3 classification is not just not-for-profit, but includes a tax exempt status that allows contributors to deduct their payments from their income. Political parties, campaigns, and lobbying organizations fall under a different classification which allows them to not pay taxes, but does not allow contributors any income deduction.

501(c)3 status is most commonly called public charities, dominated by schools and hospitals, but also includes lots of community organizations that support many good works. There are 501(c)3 organizations that support the military, but these tend to be the ones that provide direct support for disabled, widows and orphans and scholarships for military children. Their ads tend to be ones of sollication for support and do not usually include advocacy ads. An organization that is running advocacy ads even where those are not tied to specific parties or politicians does not really meet the test of being a public charity.

I agree with you: Durbin's... (Below threshold)
-S-:

I agree with you: Durbin's actions are thuggish.

I'm not surprised. Anyone who speaks like Durbin does/did from the Senate isn't likely afraid or fearful of standards or social reprimand (his "apology" was amusing in avoidance of saying he denounced his earlier comments, just that he was "sorry" anyone might have had a bad experience after hearing his comments).

What's the oath of office f... (Below threshold)
-S-:

What's the oath of office for a United States Senator? And, what are the employment standards? I'm asking rhetorically.

Michael Seifert:I'... (Below threshold)
Joe:

Michael Seifert:

I'm afraid your analysis differs from the law. Not only are 501c3's allowed to advocate for their causes but under the IRS codes 501c3's and 501c4's are even allowed to use a percentage of their funds for what you and I would call "political" advertising - supporting or opposing a candidate.

But even if the law didn't allow such - it makes no difference. The ad does not say to vote FOR or AGAINST Durbin.

It DOES 100% accurately quote Durbin.

If we are no longer allowed to quote a politician without the regulators telling groups "you can't do that - only political PACs can do that" then we've reached a sad day in America.




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