It's about time some of these organizations got the evil eye from the IRS. Common Cause has filed a request with the IRS for them to take a long look at whether or not ALEC has reached beyond the constraints of their tax-exempt status. This follows a front-page feature article from the New York Times about ALEC and their activities, showing them to be nothing more than stealth lobbyists for corporations.
Via Think Progress:
ALEC, the “association for conservative state lawmakers who shared a common belief in limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty,” has pushed an extreme legislative agenda in states across the country, pushing shoot-first” “stand your ground” laws and voter suppression efforts. In recent weeks, at least a dozen companies announced they would no longer fund ALEC — following pressure from a Color of Change national campaign — and ALEC announced it would refocus its efforts away from “non-economic issues.” Last week, the group’s Louisiana state chairman resigned from the group.
Now, Common Cause is asking the Internal Revenue Service to take action; the group is requesting the agency audit ALEC’s work, impose penalties, and compel payment of back taxes. Common Cause President Bob Edgar (a former Democratic U.S. Rep. from Pennsylvania) said the group is masquerading as a public charity.
As a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt “charitable” organization, donations to the group are tax-deductible. But IRS rules state that (c)(3)s must “not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests” and “may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities.”ALEC claims its work is not lobbying. But, Edgar argues, ALEC’s mission “is to bring together corporations and state legislators to draft profit-driven, anti-public-interest legislation, and then help those elected officials pass the bills in statehouses from coast to coast. If that’s not lobbying, what is?”
This would be a good time for all tax-exempt political/ideological organizations to take a hard look at what they're doing and how they're doing it, because I have a sense this is only the beginning of the wars over tax-exempt status. It's about time. Let's have a closer look at some church organizations, too.