120,000+ Voices

An Unprecedented Number Of Americans Have Weighed In Against An IRS Regulation That Would Stifle Speech Of Social Welfare Groups


Record Number Of Comments From Concerned Citizens And Groups

There are more than 120,000 public comments on the proposed IRS regulations for 501(c)(4)s. (Comments On IRS NPRM, REG-134417-13, Regulations.gov, Accessed 2/27/14)

“And it’s bad news for the Internal Revenue Service and the administration: most of the comments are not positive.” (“IRS Proposed Rules For Nonprofits Alarm Conservatives And Liberals Alike,” Forbes, 2/25/14)


Right, Left Groups Warn: Rule Would Have A ‘Chilling Effect’ On Free Speech

NAN ARON, Alliance For Justice: “In its attempt to define what kinds of activity are ‘political’ and therefore cannot be counted toward a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization’s social welfare purpose, Treasury and the IRS drew a very deep and troubling line in the sand.” (“Treasury, IRS Proposal: The End of Nonpartisan Election Work By 501(c)(4)s?,” BolderAdvocacy.org, 11/27/13)

ACLU: “Accordingly, we can say with confidence that bona fide charitable organizations, may also, under the proposed rule, be forced to seriously ‘hedge and trim’ what should be fully protected speech in their issue advocacy to stay far clear of any potential CRPA. Worse, this chilling effect will be more acute for smaller organizations that do not have access to legal expertise in this area. …we fear that the proposed rule will … impermissibly chill political speech that should receive the highest level of protection under the First Amendment.” (Laura Murphy And Gabriel Rottman, ACLU, Comments On IRS REG-134417-13, 2/4/14)

CENTER FOR EFFECTIVE GOVERNMENT: “The Center for Effective Government, a liberal group that works to promote advocacy work by charities, started the Bright Lines Project in 2008 in order to get the IRS to take a tougher line against politicking. But the project said in a statement that it now opposes the IRS proposal because it would have a ‘chilling effect’ on charities that want to engage in grass-roots advocacy on political issues.” (“IRS Rule on Nonprofits Loses Liberal Allies,” CQ, 1/27/14)

GARY BASS, Bauman Family Foundation, and DIANA AVIV, Independent Sector: “Ultimately, the proposed Treasury-IRS rules would further chill nonprofit civic engagement and send a message to funders and groups that even long-standing and widely accepted nonpartisan behavior is ‘political.’ Such limitations are unacceptable in a democracy and raise troubling constitutional issues in their ambiguity and uneven treatment of charities, social welfare groups and other tax-exempt organizations.” (Gary Bass And Diana Aviv, Op-Ed, “Treasury And IRS Rules On Nonprofits’ Political Activity Miss The Mark,” Washington Post, 12/12/13)

SIERRA CLUB: IRS rule ‘harms efforts that have nothing to do with politics’ “Cathy Duvall, the Sierra Club's director of strategic partnerships, said that the proposal ‘harms efforts that have nothing to do with politics, from our ability to communicate with our members about clean air and water to our efforts to educate the public about toxic pollution.’” (“IRS Effort To Rein In Nonpro?ts Gets Beaten Up By Both Sides,” Washington Post, 2/12/14)

THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS: “For 94 years the League has played a unique role in our elections by providing truly nonpartisan voter services and information to voters across the country. Unfortunately, the IRS proposal as it stands would jeopardize our work because it does not provide any exception for truly nonpartisan voter service activities like those carried out by the League. This is a terrible mistake, both for voters and for our democracy.” (League Of Women Voters, Press Release, 2/19/14)  

NRA: “‘At first glance, it appears like a blatant abuse of the tax code designed to muzzle the American people's free speech rights,’ said a spokesman for the National Rifle Association, which is a 501(c)(4) group.” (“IRS Moves To Restrict Nonprofits' Politicking,” The Wall Street Journal, 11/26/13)

CENTER FOR COMPETITIVE POLITICS: “…the proposal regulates far more speech than can be justified, under either administrative law or the First Amendment, given Supreme Court precedent over the past several decades.” (Bradley Smith And Allen Dickerson, Center For Competitive Politics, Comments On IRS NPRM, REG-134417-13, 12/5/13)

MAT STAVER, Liberty Counsel: ‘The IRS should not be used to silence the voice of the people’ “‘President Obama wants to silence the voices of millions of Americans who disagree with him and his policies,’ said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. … ‘These proposed IRS rules are designed to silence opposition to President Obama and his Party. The IRS should not be used to silence the voice of the people. These regulations are very dangerous to our freedom,’ concluded Staver.” (Liberty Counsel, Press Release, 1/20/14)

AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: “Grassroots groups are being targeted yet again. As the 2014 Congressional elections loom over DC, the IRS has proposed new rules which would muzzle hundreds of grassroots groups. In a controversial move, the Internal Revenue Service will redefine certain criteria for what defines a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt activity in order to eliminate their place in the public square, and in the words of House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R., Mich.), ‘[put] tea party groups out of business.’” (ATR, Press Release, 2/3/14)

AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY: “Levi Russell, a spokesman for Americans for Prosperity, one of the biggest 501(c)(4) groups, said in an e-mail that the rules would set an ‘arbitrary restriction’ on Americans’ ability to voice their concerns with elected officials. The group advocates limited government. ‘Because the proposed rules are so sweeping, categorical, and prohibitive, they will almost certainly affect organizations both large and small with equally draconian effects,’ he said.” (“Big-Money Politics Groups Get Clarity From IRS They Hate,” Bloomberg, 2/19/14)

HOME SCHOOL LEGAL DEFENSE ASSOCIATION: “HSLDA strongly opposed this Proposed Rule in its entirety. This Proposed Rule unlawfully restricts the First Amendment free speech rights of millions of Americans who belong to social welfare organizations and who depends on these organizations to influence public policy and society in beneficial ways. … This Proposed Rule would be incredibly damaging to HSLDA , other 501(c)(4) organizations, and our nations’ long standing Constitutional freedoms.” (J. Michael Smith, HSLDA, Comments On REG-134417-13, 1/9/14)

THE AMERICAN MOTORCYCLIST ASSOCIATION: “The AMA, as a 501(c)4 membership based organization, is concerned that the proposed rule the IRS seeks to implement will stifle nonpartisan speech in a manner that leads to a less informed electorate. In short, we believe that the changes proposed twill prevent the AMA from educating voters and advocating for the social welfare of the motorcycling community.” (Wayne Allard, American Motorcyclist Association, Comments On IRS NPRM, REG-134417-13, 12/10/13)

NYPD SERGEANTS BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION: “When government agents engage in misconduct that chills or violates constitutional rights, the government’s response cannot be to reshape and scale back the contours of these rights just to ensure that the government avoids colliding with them again in the future. … Given the history of misuse and abuse of the IRS’ immense powers in the not-so-distant past, it is disappointing and disturbing that this fundamental principle has been forgotten and that this NPRM is the IRS’ proposed response to its recent missteps.” (Ed Mullins, SBA, Comments On IRS NPRM, REG-134417-13, 2/20/14)

FLOYD ABRAMS, ARTHUR EISENBERG, JOEL GORA, MICHAEL MEYERS, HARVEY SILVERGLATE, NADINE STROSSEN AND WILLIAM VAN ALSTYNE, First Amendment Advocates: “This will have a severe chilling effect on the ability of the thousands of non-profit issue advocacy groups to engage in their vital commentary on the critical issues of the day.” (Floyd Abrams Et Al., Comments On IRS NPRM, REG-134417-13, 2/24/14)