Democrat On Ways And Means Committee Pushing For IRS Investigation Of NRA

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) is a junior member of the House Ways and Means Committee. He ranks 20th in seniority among 25 Democrats in the committee majority. The House Ways and Means Committee helps to oversee the Internal Revenue Service. He is using his membership on the committee to push the IRS into investigating the NRA’s 501(c)(4) non-profit status. This comes a couple of weeks after Everytown filed a complaint with the IRS regarding that status. While still a junior member of the committee, his request obviously carries more weight than that of Everytown.

Today he sent a letter to Commissioner Charles Rettig of the IRS asking him to review the NRA’s non-profit status in light of the recent allegations of “self-dealing, deceptive billing, and other abuses of tax exempt status”. The letter is below and a PDF can be seen here.

Dear Commissioner Rettig:

As a Member of the Ways and Means Committee, I take very seriously my role and responsibility in conducting oversight of our nation’s federal tax laws and ensuring the federal tax code is working as intended. It is with this duty in mind that I am writing to strongly encourage you to investigate recent reports of possible wrongdoing by the National Rifle Association (NRA), which enjoys status as a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). The allegations against the NRA reported in The New Yorker on April 17, 2019, including instances of egregious self-dealing, deceptive billing practices, and preferences in contracting are most troubling.

Our tax system is based on voluntary compliance. It is therefore essential that individuals and entities alike have full confidence they will be treated fairly, and the rules and regulations under the law will be applied equally. The American people trust the government will actively ensure all organizations are not engaging in misconduct, and specific to tax-exempt organizations, refraining from impermissible political activity. All entities and individuals who skirt the rules for personal gain should be pursued and penalized.

As you well know, Section 501 of the IRC lays out the types of organizations that qualify for tax-exempt status, as well the rules and regulations such organizations must follow. It is a basic assumption that active oversight and enforcement will improve compliance. However, in 2018, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration issued a report that found the further processing of multiple legitimate referrals alleging improper political activity by tax-exempt organizations were not pursued. This report finding raises questions about the IRS’s enforcement of our federal tax laws.

I am concerned about the potential long-term harm that diminished enforcement will have on the many nonprofit organizations that do follow the rules and take their charitable and social welfare purpose seriously. The alleged NRA operating practices also raise the question of whether current rules and procedures are adequate to guard against abuse.

In light of this information, I respectfully ask that you review whether the recent allegations against the NRA warrant reconsideration of the organization’s tax-exempt status. If you determine there is not sufficient information or resources to undertake this review, and other routine examinations of tax-exempt social welfare organizations, I ask that you provide recommendations to Congress on how we can best ensure the IRS is able to appropriately enforce our nation’s tax laws.

Non-profit organizations have always played a critical role in our society, improving the lives of millions of Americans. When trust in our tax laws is eroded, Congress and the Administration have a joint responsibility to investigate and act. The American people deserve to know that tax-exempt organizations are not abusing their preferential tax treatment and are operating according to their intended social welfare purpose, which is to benefit society.

I thank you in advance for your consideration.


Bradley S. Schneider

Schneider references a 2018 report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration regarding referrals alleging improper political activity by tax-exempt organizations. Mind you that at 501(c)(4) is allowed to engage in some political activity. Moreover, it was the weaponized IRS during the Obama Administration that was going after Tea Party and other other conservative organizations. Remember Lois Lerner? I wonder how many of the referrals that were not pursued were related to that time period. Hmm.

Inspector General J. Russell George was testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee today and Schneider used his time to grill him regarding the NRA and its 501(c)(4) status. He pitched his argument in terms of funding cuts to the IRS and whether that would impair their ability to go after organization like the NRA if it was found to engage in illegal and improper activity. Of course as the transcript makes clear, the leading questions all dealt with the NRA.

You can see the questioning in the YouTube video below helpfully provided by Rep. Schneider’s office.

I often feel sorry for any official who has to testify before Congress. The questioning is not really a give and take question and answer session so much as it is the politician rambling on in a political statement with an occasional question interspersed.

That said, the pressure on the NRA is being increased. As I said yesterday, the NRA can either get its house in order itself or it will be done for them. If I seem to be harping on getting their house in order, it is because I want to see a strong, effective NRA and not some neutered shadow of its former self.

Nasty Little Fascists Struggling For Relevance

I received an email this morning from Greg Waples of the Center for American Progress alerting me that the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (sic) was going to be delivering a petition to both the Federal Election Commission and the Internal Revenue Service tomorrow. This petition, ostensibly signed by 11,000 people, demands an immediate investigation into the National Rifle Association for potential violations of campaign finance and tax laws.

Waples is the Campaign Manager for the Guns and Crime Policy team at the Center for American Progress. Prior to that, he worked as a coordinator in the White House Office of Presidential Correspondence. That was his reward for being a regional coordinator for the 2012 Obama reelection campaign.

His emails says:

Just wanted to flag this event happening tomorrow for those in the DC area. CSGV will be delivering 11,000 petition signatures to the FEC calling on them to investigate the National Rifle Association for potential violations of federal law. This is in response to a series of investigative reports and follow up by Yahoo News on potential NRA violations and the subsequent complaint filed by CREW.

CSGV is asking for people to be present for a crowd build at this event. If you are free and in the area tomorrow morning, please consider stopping by! Also, please forward this to any others who might be interested.

 Given the recent successes of the gun prohibitionists attracting crowds, I’m wondering if it will be 15 or will it be 25 people other than staffers who show up.

CREW or Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is far from the non-profit, non-partisan watchdog group that they want you to think they are. As the website Crew Exposed makes clear, it is conservatives that are targeted by a ratio of 8-1. This is not surprising given that their chairman is Media Matters’ David Brock and their executive director Noah Bookbinder was a high-level staffer for Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Let’s be clear about what CSGV and CREW are seeking. They want two powerful government agencies to do their dirty work in swatting down their political opponents. This is a dangerous game that they are playing. In an open society government agencies shouldn’t be called upon to use their power to punish one’s political enemies. This is akin to asking the FEC and IRS to play much the same role as the Nazis asked the Sicherheitspolizei and Gestapo. That is to be their state enforcement agency against regime opponents.

A Welcome Unintended Consequence Of The IRS Scandal

The scandal involving the IRS targeting tea party groups and auditing certain conservatives is having a welcome unintended consequence. Not only does it have the White House playing damage control but it may have put a hold on further attempts to reintroduce the Manchin-Toomey background checks.

According to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) himself on a West Virginia radio show, it isn’t helping.

Isn’t it more understandable, asked host Hoppy Kercheval, that people who fear more government intrusion or influence would now have some of those fears stoked after the revelations in the past week?

“Absolutely – I agree 1,000 percent,” Mr. Manchin said on MetroNews’ “Talkline.” “People are saying, ‘Joe, we read your legislation, it makes all the sense in the world and we’re for that legislation – we’re just afraid government won’t stop there.’”

I guess we should be thanking those faceless Obama ideologues in the IRS for being so overtly and over the top political in their actions.

Manchin goes on to say that the Second Amendment can only be changed by the legislative branch of the government. Perhaps someone needs to send Manchin a copy of the United States Constitution. The amendment process involves both Congress AND ratification by three-fourths of the states. Article V of the Constitution also say the states themselves could call for a constitutional convention.

Training Issues At The IRS’s Criminal Division

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released a report yesterday detailing firearms training issues with the Special Agents of the IRS’s Criminal Division.

From Reuters on the report:

Armed Internal Revenue Service agents need more thorough firearms training and they
need to be more consistent in reporting accidental firings of their
guns, said the tax-collecting agency’s watchdog on Tuesday.

“Special agents not properly
trained in the use of firearms could endanger the public, as well as
their fellow special agents, and expose the IRS to potential litigation
over injuries or damages,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector
General for Tax Administration.

inspector general said agents used firearms in self-defense eight times
and accidentally fired their weapons 11 times during fiscal years 2009
through fiscal 2011.

 I am reading the report now but I’d say “accidentally fired their weapons” is really negligently filed their weapons. I think the Inspector General agrees with that as well given his statement regarding potential liability for damages.

“It is imperative that Criminal Investigation ensure that all its
special agents are well trained,” said J. Russell George, Treasury
Inspector General for Tax Administration. “Special agents not properly
trained in the use of firearms could endanger the public, as well as
their fellow special agents, and expose the IRS to potential litigation
over injuries or damages.