I was pleased to be invited to participate in a blogger conference call with Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) today. After his brief opening remarks, four of us had the opportunity to ask a question, and I was one of the four, along John McCormack of The Weekly Standard, Toby (I believe Toby Walker, but am not certain) of the Waco TEA Party and John Fund of National Review.
These tele-conferences move quickly. I took some notes, but certainly do not have it down word-for-word. Anything you see in parenthesis, is my take, or trying to give background to make it clearer. If I have used quotation marks (“) I am quoting what I believe the Senator said, according to my notes. It’s possible, of course, that I didn’t get it exactly right, and if that’s the case my apologies. The same for the questions asked by McCormick, Toby and Fund. If anything needs to be changed, let me know and I will do so. At the end of my question, Senator Cruz reminded us that the public commenting period on the IRS’ own Rule Change, which will restrict conservatives from certain activities, but will not restrict trade unions, trade associations and 501(c)(3)s, is open for public comment up to February 27, 2014. It is imperative that we all comment. Below the phone conversation, I have the details, where to go, etc., with a few samples of some of the comments. At this time, there are only 1,049 comments. We need to grow that number large. Pass it on to your friends and family.
One more thing, at 7:51 p.m. CST I received an invitation to participate in a tele-townhall, tonight with Senator Cruz, at 6:30 p.m., so I was already 20 minutes late. Don’t know what happened there, but I had another question: what do you expect to happen to your S.1661 requiring the State Department offer a reward of not more than $5 million for information regarding information on the attacks and/or leading to the capture of an individual or others involved. The bill has been stuck in committee since November 12, 2013.
Begin Tele-Conference (all emphasis is mine):
Senator Cruz began with the lawlessness and abuse of power that we see happening in Government today, and that we heard issued direct from the House podium last night. Obama made it clear that he is “doubling down.”
Weekly Standard, John McCormack – asked if the Senator believes it is still possible to repeal ObamaCare. (McCormack posted on the call this evening and has the Senator’s exact comments. Read it here)
Sen. Cruz’ said he does believe it is possible to repeal. (Before coming to that bottom-line, he went through some background and the recent fight that he an others led to defund ObamaCare before the spending bill vote. He gave no specific timeline when a repeal might be possible, but I assume he means we must take the Senate to get it done).
Waco TEA Party, Toby – asked the Senator’s opinion on “myRA,” (a proposal announced in the State of the Union for a new savings bond).
Sen. Cruz said he is interested in providing for “saving money, controlling assets and preparing for retirement,” but had no real details to analyze myRA, and that “the devil is in the details.”
Maggie [my question] – after your statements to Eric Holder in today’s Senate Judiciary hearing regarding the IRS targeting of conservatives, Holder told you there is no reason to bring in a Special Prosecutor, no basis to believe the investigation is not going according to normal procedure, so what do you do when the DOJ refuses to allow serious scrutiny?
Sen. Cruz said the DOJ is to be “independent from the President and the press,” but this DOJ is taking another path. There are three ways to hold him accountable:
1. Congress should hold Holder accountable, but the Senate will not. The House can do much more by “appointing a Select Committee,” with an “experienced Chief Counsel who can follow the facts.” The “people” should urge the House to do this.
2. The media should hold Holder accountable. Can you imagine what the press would have done had a major Nixon donor been in charge of the Watergate investigation? (The intimation was that, the press would not have allowed it, would have been all over it, yet this is exactly what is happening with Obama donor Barbara Bosserman heading the probe.)
3. The American people, including bloggers, are “important.” Each blogger has the ability to “empower” an issue. “It was wrong when Nixon” attempted it, and “it is wrong now” that the IRS under the Obama administration has actually done it. (See more below on a public commenting period which Cruz asks that we participate in.)
National Review, John Fund – In today’s Judiciary hearing, how did it go when Senator Mike Lee asked about the authority of the President to issue Executive orders?
Sen. Cruz said it was “stunning.” Regarding the President overriding ObamaCare law, specifically delaying the employer mandate, Holder gave an answer that was the “embodiment of Orwellian double-speak.” Holder cited “Category 1” of the “Youngstown” decision, asserting that the President’s authority comes from the “express authorization to Congress.” “There is no express authorization from Congress.” “The DOJ just isn’t even bothering to think through these matters.” “There is a lack of constitutional authority.”
End of tele-conference
Regarding the public commenting period, here are details from the Nevada County TEA Party (note that labor unions, trade associations and 501(c)(3)s will have a distinct advantage over you and lose none of their First Amendment Rights.
In response, on November 29, 2013, the IRS proposed amending its own rules, which would basically make all Tea Parties and other conservative groups organized as a 501(c)(4) impotent, while excluding labor unions and trade association.
However, Public Comment on these Proposed Regulations is open until February 27, 2014.
The proposed rules would prohibit as “candidate-related political activities,” all of the following:
– Voter Registration
– Candidate Forums and Debate
– Voter Guides
– Voting Records of Incumbents
– Public statements by officers and leaders of (c)(4)s that reference incumbents and candidates
– Communications include radio, TV, written, newspaper, internet, phones and oral if can reach 500 people
– If voting records or other statements are posted on website-and remain on website within “blackout” period, converted to a candidate-related political expenditure
– Applies to volunteer activities sponsored by organization
– “Candidates” include all public offices, executive, legislative and judicial-partisan and nonpartisan, and officers in a “political organization”
– Contributions to a c4 that engages in any “CRPA” will be treated as 100% political
– “Express advocacy” uses broader definition, includes “reject” as a magic ‘word’ and adopts a subjective test (communication is perceived as having electoral meaning…)
The proposed rules do NOT include:
– Labor Unions
– Trade Associations
– 501c3 organizations
ONLY 501(c)(4) groups.
Note: that the Wall Street Journal study documented $4.4 billion in political expenditures by labor unions between 2005-2011.
Suggested talking points may include:
– Discriminatory by only applying to 501(c)(4) organizations
– Violates First Amendment Rights of Citizens and Organizations
– Rules are complicated, complex and will burden small citizen groups
– Political and lobbying activities ARE for the social welfare and the public good.
Give examples of things that (c)(4)s should be able to do without government interference, taxation and reporting:
– Candidate forums and debates
– Nonpartisan Voter registration
– Issue guides
– Voting records of incumbents
– Grassroots lobbying 365 days per year!
– Volunteer programs should NOT be subject to taxation
To leave your comment on the Regulations.gov website, go here. In the big blue-outlined “Search” box, enter this citation: IRS REG-134417-13 and hit “search.” You will be taken to this page. As of this moment, there are two items on the page. The first is one we’re interested in and it reads “Guidance for Tax-Exempt Social Welfare Organizations on Candidate-Related Political Activities.” Click the “Comment Now! button and a you will be taken to a comment box to submit your opinion. If you want to check out what is already being said, click the “Open Docket Folder” under the “Comment Now! button. At this minute, there are 1,049 comments. The following are a few snippets of some of the comments:
The IRS is responsible for collecting taxes and the interpretation and enforcement of the Internal Revenue Code.
The IRS is not allowed to supersede the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America which allows FREE SPEECH.
It’s clear through this proposed rule (IRS REG-134417-13) that the IRS is not concerned with the social welfare of the American people nor does it value an informed electorate. This Regulation, if enacted, begs for political chicanery of the highest magnitude.
Hello, Im asking that the IRS proposed regulation not be put into place as it would require the silence of numerous non-profit organizations and wouldn’t enable them to conduct…
The IRS has become politicized and that is not a good thing. When the IRS is used to intimidate legitimate differences between people in their political philosophies, that is the…
Why does the IRS feel it can legislate free speech rights to any American Citizen or groups of citizens? The rule proposed is deliberately Unconstitutional in every possible way…
Do not adopt this measure. The rule change is an attempt to quash critics of incumbent administrations. It is apparent to me, as a citizen of our great country, that this…
Leave free speech alone. Consentrate on getting revenue from illegal aliens. That would be great.
In the few comments I had time to view, maybe 30 or so, a number of them were identical. If you can, change it up some, so that it is obvious that you are giving them your own, unique thoughts. If you don’t have time, then copy. The important thing is to let it be know that you understand what this government is doing, and you don’t like it, and you will do all you can to stop it.
Don’t forget to contact your Congressperson to encourage a House Select Committee to investigate IRS targeting.
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