May 26, 2013

Isn't this special? Chris Wallace decided to take up for his poor, downtrodden fellow Fox "News" contributor Karl Rove on this week's Fox News Sunday. Wallace wanted to know why Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin was picking on poor old Rove instead of going after liberal groups as well for claiming 501(c)(4) tax exempt status, and as Durbin had to explain to him, twice, he went after Rove because he was openly bragging about the fact that he was going to violate the law.

I was also glad to see Durbin take up Lawrence O'Donnell's cause here and mention that the law on the books actually says these groups should be exclusively engaged in social welfare (and it's a big stretch to call any of what they do "social welfare" in the first place) and not politics and that it should be applied to all of them equally. Good. Let's see an executive order mandating that the IRS fix their improper interpretation of the statute and make every one of these groups pay their taxes like the rest of us.

WALLACE: Senator Durbin, I want to pick up on this culture. Starting in 2010, a number of Democratic senators -- Democrat senators -- sent letters to the IRS asking them to investigate various groups that they said were seeking tax-exempt status, but were improperly involved in politics. Now, in October 2010, you sent a letter to the IRS in which you talked about going after groups.

But you only mentioned one specifically by name and I want to put this up from the October 2010 letter that you wrote to the IRS, "One organization whose activities appear to be inconsistent with the tax status is Crossroads GPS." That, of course, a group co-founded by Karl Rove.

Question, Senator -- why single out Crossroads when you did not mention one single liberal group, and there were a bunch that were applying for that exempt-status exactly that point, with the name "progress" in their names?

DURBIN: I can just tell you flat out why I did it, because that Crossroads organization was boasting about the money they were raising as a 501(c)(4).

Let's get back to the basics. Citizens United really unleashed hundreds, if not thousands, of organizations seeking tax-exempt statuses to play in political campaigns. The law we wrote as Congress said that they had to exclusively be engaged in social welfare and not politics and campaigning.

And so, here is the IRS trying to decide whether or not these organizations really comply with the law. Crossroads was exhibit A. They were boastful about how much the money they were going to raise and beat Democrats.

WALLACE: Senator Durbin, just briefly, why not, because we're now in the mess that we are in because of political targeting, why not send a letter that says, go after any group of any political persuasion? Why not refrain from mentioning a conservative group and never mentioned any liberal groups?

DURBIN: Well, I explained that once, Chris. But, you know, Karl Rove was making -- he's boasting, saying he's going to raise so much money, millions of dollars. And I knew that if they went into investigate this group, every other group would be put on notice.

I've also said from the beginning, Chris, there's no basis for targeting within the IRS, what we basically need to say is all groups need to have the law applied to them equally. And in this situation, Karl Rove was front and center and proud of it. And that's why I mentioned his organization.

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