Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) busted Republicans on Wednesday for trying to delay implementing new regulations concerning 501(c)(4) organizations.
Pointing out that the (c)(4) designation protects secrecy, Levin said, “That is exactly the secrecy that the Republicans are trying to preserve. Why? Because the three largest spenders representing fully 51% of the total are a who’s who list of Republican political operatives. Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS spent $71 million. Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers, spent $36 million. The American Future Fund, also the Koch brothers, spent $25 million.”
Naturally Republicans, who wasted 14 million dollars and counting on ginning up this fake IRS scandal, want to make sure that actual political activities are not taken into account when determining if a group can qualify for tax exemption.
Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sandy Levin exploded on the floor as Republicans tried to delay implementing the regulations that were recommended after they brought attention to the IRS for alleged (and fictional) targeting of conservatives.
First he called out the fact that there is absolutely no evidence of Republican claims that the White House had created an enemies list and was corrupt.
Levin tartly brought up the $14 million in taxpayer funds that Republicans had already thrown away trying to create a fake scandal for political reasons, and pointed out that after all of that money, we learned that absolutely nothing sinister was going on.
But Republicans were so concerned! SO CONCERNED that they spent $14 million dollars to investigate the IRS and yet they don’t want to implement the changes suggested to the IRS. Changes that Levin pointed out were designed to “bring certainty in determining whether an organization’s primary activities are political.”
Ah, yes. Now we are the heart of it. Levin recounted the way Republicans stomped their feet and insisted – while cameras were rolling – that these regulations be acted upon.
Then Levin got all truth buster on the GOP and brought up the explosion of dark money groups after the Citizens United ruling, “Why is this important? Because applications for 501(c)(4) status have nearly doubled between 2010 and 2012 to 3,357, and 501(c)(4) spending has skyrocketed. In 2006 $1 million was spent by 501(c)(4) organizations. In 2010, $92 million was spent. And in 2012, $256 million was spent by 501(c)(4) organizations.”
Levin pointed out that this designation allows the organizations to keep their donors secret. And that this secrecy is actually what Republicans are trying to protect, “That is exactly the secrecy that the Republicans are trying to preserve. Why? Because the three largest spenders representing fully 51% of the total are a who’s who list of Republican political operatives. Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS spent $71 million. Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers, spent $36 million. The American Future Fund, also the Koch brothers, spent $25 million.”
Levin didn’t shy away from the truth, “If you live in a targeted state and you turn on your television, you have probably seen these groups that work at distorting the Affordable Care Act. That is why we are here today purely and simply. Not because Republicans want to stand up for the rights of social welfare organizations, and they often talk about small ones, but to preserve the secrecy around the Republicans’ big campaign efforts.”
And now, after all of the public drama, we get to the entire point of the Republican fable about the IRS, which we explained to you as it was going on. Yes, this is all about protecting dark money. It always has been. Levin demanded, “Why are we standing here and saying to the IRS don’t look at 501(c)(4)s. Don’t look at the possible massive abuse. Don’t look at what has happened in the last few years where political operatives, under the guise of 501(c)(4), have moved from $1 million in many cases to $256 million as reported to the FEC.”
Why are Republicans trying to force the IRS to look the other way? Because Republicans can’t win elections without dark money spreading lies about Democrats. Republicans can’t afford to run on issues. They have to run on smears, since their policies are determined by the Koch Brothers et al, and thus benefit the top 1% instead of the people.
The Republican intention was to manipulate the IRS with a fake story that got a lot of press and thus would be the narrative that stuck in the public’s mind. The press has moved on and barely managed, if at all, to clarify that there was no scandal other than the fact that Republicans lied and schemed to manufacture this fake scandal for the cameras. The Republicans were pulling a classic Karl Rove — attack and put the IRS on the defense, along with the Obama administration as a whole. This way no one would feel free to actually investigate Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, etc, because it would look bad.
But it backfired. Sure, the public has been duped, but the Democrats did not bow down per usual. The Democrats are on the war path, and they aren’t going down without a fight.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.