Uncommon Sense

May 23, 2013

What Did They Know and When Did They Know It?

Filed under: Politics,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 12:31 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Those of us old enough to remember watching the Watergate Hearings on television remember that phrase (because it was used over and over again). This is part of a legal and political game of “who knew what when” that can be applied to determining whether someone had a motive for their actions. If a jealous husband shoots the wife’s lover before he knew of her infidelity, that motive wouldn’t hold up in court, for example.

Currently Republicans are trying to fan the flames of the current IRS problems into a full-blown scandal. House Speaker John Boehner has stated that since “now it appears they’ve (the White House) known about it for about a year . . . it’s pretty inconceivable to me that the President wouldn’t know.”

In other words, since the President must have known about it for a long time . . . and said nothing . . . then it is a cover-up!

There are only a few problems with this. The White House has admitted to hearing of the problem . . . last month . . . not last year and there is no evidence they knew of it as anything but an internal IRS matter any earlier.

But, the IRS Inspector General informed Darrell Issa and Jim Jordan (of the House Oversight Committee) of the inquiry last July. So, if we were to use the Speaker’s logic, since a House committee knew of it since last July, the Speaker must also have known about it . . . and since he said nothing . . . the Speaker of the House was covering up this scandal!

The scandal, though, is not about this. The scandal is about how a statute that says that institutions which exclusively do social welfare work can get 501(c)(4) tax status could be interpreted by the IRS as “institutions that primarily do social welfare work.” And that happened in 1959 when Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, was president. The consequence of this “interpretation” is that currently institutions do not even need to apply for this status, they just have to act as if they were one and everything is okay. Having gone through the mandatory paperwork (plus fees, lawyers, etc.) to get a 501(c)(3) organization off of the ground, this is ludicrous, especially when the “4s” were not supposed to be politicking with their funds and many of them were doing nothing but. (Here’s an excerpt from the enabling law’s language (. . . exclusively for the promotion of “social welfare,” such as civics and civics issues, or local associations of employees with membership limited to a designated company or people in a particular municipality or neighborhood, and with net earnings devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes.). Note the use of the word exclusively.

I don’t care whether such organizations are conservative, liberal, or comprised only of angels, I do not want any purely or primarily political agency getting tax free status, nor should their donors be anonymous, as they are now.

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