A little publicized IRS decision should have conservatives who write about politics very alarmed. The IRS revoked the tax-exempt status of a conservative political organization, the Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty (PHCIL), due to a handful of articles that founder Gary Aldrich wrote in his personal capacity. His decade-old articles simply criticized Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, which the IRS claimed constituted electioneering.
The articles were linked to as "alerts" from the PHCIL website. The American Spectator noted, "Although the literature demands that those like Clinton and Kerry be kept out of power, it never specifically says, 'Don't vote for Clinton or Kerry.' As a former elections attorney for Maricopa County in Arizona, I recognize the difference between politicking vs. electioneering - yet the IRS appears not to care about the distinction.
The IRS justified revoking PHCIL's tax-exempt status with this draconian language, "[PHCIL] has shown a pattern of deliberate and consistent intervention in political campaigns" and has made "repeated statements supporting or opposing various candidates by expressing its opinion of the respective candidate's character and qualifications."
The timing is peculiar. The IRS issued the decision on February 3, yet didn't release the announcement to the press until April 18. The name of the organization was blacked out in the determination letter, which is not characteristic of these announcements. Having worked for public officials, I suspect the IRS postponed and then attempted to hide making the revocation public, not wanting to draw more attention to the Lois Lerner conservative targeting scandal.
Aldrich, who served in the FBI and as a private investigator during the Clinton years, published a New York Times bestseller exposing corruption at the Clinton White House in 1996, entitled Unlimited Access. The book revealed all kinds of sordid activity by the Clintons, including Bill promising Hillary control over domestic policy in exchange for her not abandoning him over his extramarital affairs.
PHCIL is not some fly-by-night sleazy operation that funnels money like ACORN. Its board members include Ed Meese, who served as Attorney General under President Reagan. The advisory board includes Mark Levin, Bob Barr, Oliver North and Beverly LaHaye. In 2010, PHCIL merged with the Tea Party group Liberty Central, run by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's wife Virginia "Ginni" Thomas. Conservatives should be alarmed that some of our top respected leaders are being targeted.
Ironically, PHCIL was launched in order to fight back against this kind of targeting. Aldrich states in his biography, "With firsthand knowledge of the hardship facing those who dare to speak the truth in the face of corrupt power, [I] determined to make a difference by helping others. Thus was conceived a non-profit foundation to assist [other] whistleblowers and to protect their First Amendment rights." PHCIL's first client was Linda Tripp, who exposed Bill Clinton's extramarital affair with Monica Lewinsky.
The IRS revoked PHCIL's status as a 501(c)(3), a type of tax-exempt nonprofit that allows limited lobbying and political activity, but can receive tax-exempt contributions. Garth Kant of Worldnetdaily pointed out that the left wing group Media Matters for America, a 501(c)(3), has engaged in nonstop political criticism of Mitt Romney - to name just one political candidate - yet the IRS has never revoked its tax-exempt status. In just one month during 2012, Media Matters published 238 articles containing the word "Romney," with many partisan titles such as "CBS News Covers for Romney Campaign's Tax Doublespeak" and ""Fox's Hemmer Parrots Romney's '12 Million Jobs' Lie."
Media Matters has a 501(c)(4) wing, Media Matters Action Network, but those articles appeared under its main 501(c)(3) side. At a minimum, PHCIL should be allowed to operate as a tax-exempt 501(3)(4), which is permitted much more political activity, although contributions are not tax deductible. Tellingly, the IRS has said not a word about this alternative.
How has Media Matters not done exactly what PHCIL is accused of doing and ten times more, "repeated statements supporting or opposing various candidates by expressing its opinion of the respective candidate's character and qualifications?" As conservative columnist Robert Knight observes, this smacks of more selective enforcement. Considering Aldrich's organization only reported $350,000 in revenues for 2012, it seems even more likely he was singled out.
This is being done to make it difficult for Aldrich to speak up about his personal knowledge of the Democrats' likely candidate for president in 2016, Hillary Clinton. If anyone has read his jaw-dropping book about corruption at the Clinton White House in the 1990s, it all makes sense. Now that another Clinton has a realistic shot at the White House, the Democratic machine behind them will ruthlessly do what they have to do to keep the slime and corruption Aldrich witnessed firsthand from resurfacing.
Any conservative who works for a nonprofit organization and writes or blogs should be terrified and expose this. The revocation goes into effect on July 1; it is not too late to fight back and appeal. Otherwise, expect more conservative nonprofit groups and writers to be targeted in order to allow Hillary to sail through to the presidency.