Don't Blame Citizens United for the IRS Scandal

Three reasons that story doesn't fly.


David Freddoso makes some sharp points about the unfolding IRS scandal:

Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee focused like a laser on the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision as the true culprit for this targeting. But there are a few problems with this explanation.

First of all, this excuse blames the victims and turns the perpetrator–the IRS–into some kind of victim of their constitutional rights. It's one thing if Democrats don't like what the law or the Constitution or the Supreme Court has to say about free speech–they are welcome to attempt to change it. But that doesn't justify the singling out of conservative groups, who were not given any special status above and beyond their liberal peers. At best, it's a separate issue.

Second, the data show that there was no surge in 501c(4) applications by Spring 2010, around which time the IRS decided to target conservative applicants–in fact, the number of applications declined sharply between fiscal 2009 and 2010. So the idea that a sudden surge of Citizens United-inspired non-profit applications created the need for this extra scrutiny is a completely false one….

Third, the groups that were targeted mostly do not even remotely fit the profile [of] huge "dark money" actors that Democrats associate with Citizens United. The Associated Press studied tax returns for 93 of them only to find that they had little money and were genuinely grassroots groups–their median income (mostly from fundraising) was $16,700 per year, and their median expenses were just $12,770–not even enough for a typical campaign ad buy.

Only a very small number of big players have used 501c(4) money for mass-scale electioneering, and none of them seem to have been targeted.

Read the rest here.