A Familiar Stench

While it’s all kinds of fun to gloat over John Edwards finally admitting that he’s the sleazebag so many of us have known he is, there’s a far more important matter that’s breaking today. There’s a group called “Accountable America,” apparently an offshoot of MoveOn.org, and they’ve organized as a 527 group to express their interest in the current election.

More specifically, they are sending out warning letters to Republican donors.

I’m sorry. That’s not quite accurate.

They’re sending out ** WARNING ** letters to people who have contributed heavily to Republicans, the Republican party, and Republican causes.

I’ve read over the letter (and I’m posting a transcript in the extended section), and it’s frighteningly familiar.

What it reminds me of is what has happened numerous times in Communist dictatorships and other totalitarian regimes. Dissenters — those who dare to be on the “wrong” side — are rounded up and sent off to “re-education camps” for not abiding to the orthodoxy.

As angry as I am, though, I think these assholes have a point, and I would very much like to see what they are calling for happen — but not to their chosen targets.

I’d like to see the various and sundry federal law enforcement agencies take a very, very close look at “Accountable America.”

I also believe that the Federal Elections Commission might have an interest in this attempt to influence elections.

There, we have four federal agencies. That ought to do for a start.

First up, they say — both in the letter and on their web site — that they are “non-partisan.” But if you look at the source code of their site, it says something entirely different: “[meta name=’description’ content=”Dedicated to electing Democrats to the state legislature across America” /]
[meta name=’keywords’ content=”Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee DLCC state legislature Democrats electing Democrats” /]

if they’re incorporated as a non-partisan group, as they claim to be, then that seems to me to be a clear-cut case of fraud. Cue the IRS.

Second, their letter is clearly intended to discourage people from contributing money to Republican causes. It’s been repeatedly shown that donating money is a form of political speech, and they’re trying to intimidate people from participating in the electoral process. Someone let the Civil Rights divisions of the Department of Justice and the FBI know about this.

Third, if a single one of these letters was mailed out, then the US Postal Service has a stake in it, too.

I have a hell of a lot more to say, and in that one the language will be quite unpleasant, so I’m going to save that for a followup piece.

This one’s all over the blogosphere, but Michelle Malkin seems to have the best info so far.

Accountable America

** WARNING **

August 8, 2008

Dear Republican Supporter:

In recent years federal law enforcement agencies have taken a more aggressive stance against non-party, non-candidate organizations that engage in activities that migh affect elections to public office. Accountable America, a non-partisan, non-profit group, is writing to make sure you are aware of some of the recent developments that may affect your decision-making concerning these organizations.

1. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced new policies to examine the political activities of certain tax-exempt Section 501(c) organizations. You can read the IRS internal memorandum on this subject at this link: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/2008_paci_program_letter.pdf

2. Many of the leading donors to 501(c) and 527 organizations have had their business and personal affairs closely scrutinized by the media and well-funded “watchdog” groups. These groups — as well as the major political parties and candidates — have routinely filed complaints with the IRS and the FEC about 501(c) and 527 group activities. These increasingly aggressive tactics have prompted several liberal and Democratic-leaning groups to disband or curtail their activities.

3) The landscape of Section 501(c) organizations that are already the subjects of complaints filed with the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Election Commission or both, and that could trigger scrutiny of their donors, include: Freedom’s Watch and Americans for job Security.

4. If a Section 501(c)(3),(c)(4) or (c)(6) organization is found to have the improper primary purpose of influencing elections it could face:

i. Fines.
ii. Public exposure of anonymous donors.
iii. Loss of tax-exempt status.
iv. Levy of unpaid taxes and interest.
v. Criminal penalties.

5. If a Section 527 group exceeds just $1,000 in federal contributions or expenditures, and has as its major purpose influencing federal elections, then it too can face fines and criminal penalties, as well as reclassification as a federal PAC, which would render most or all of the contributions it had received as unlawful transactions by both the 527 group and its donors.

6. And, an IRS or FEC investigation of a group could involve examination of its relationships with its donors and their activities.

7. Accountable America is offering a $100,000 reward to encourage whistle-blowers and and others with information about unlawful conduct by business-oriented or conservative Section 501

8. Accountable America will publicize the political and business relationships and corrupt activities of donors to these 501(c) and 527 organizations both in the media and to shareholders of public companies where a donor is a major shareholder, director, or officer.

If you want to support your candidates of choice, the most secure way remains a hard-dollar contribution. The maximum donation is $2.300 per election.

This letter does not constitute legal advice. We advise you to consult your own attorney and accountant, especially experts in campaign finance and non-profit law and tax accounting.

Sincerely.

Accountable America, Inc.
Washington, DC

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