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Date: Thu, 03 Jul 1997 06:38:12 -0700
To: (Recipient list suppressed)
From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: Political Use of the IRS (fwd)

>Tuesday, June 24, 1997 
>Just how political has IRS become? 
>At least 20 groups
>critical of Clinton targeted 
>1997, Western Journalism Center 
>SACRAMENTO, Calif.--At least 20 non-profit organizations 
>"unfriendly" to the Clinton administration have 
>faced Internal Revenue Service audits since 1993,
>a survey by the Western Journalism Center, one 
>of the groups targeted, has found. 
>Coincidence? Many conservative leaders and attorneys 
>familiar with IRS practices laugh at that suggestion. 
>Groups of all sizes and purpose are currently under 
>audit, have gone through the process or are threatened 
>with it--from large, well-known organizations 
>such as the Heritage Foundation, Citizens Against 
>Government Waste and the National Rifle Association 
>to small, local pro-life and patriot groups. Even 
>the two most popular conservative magazines--
>American Spectator and National Review--are feeling 
>the inquisitorial wrath of the IRS. 
>Though officially no one at National Review will 
>even confirm the audit, sources close to the journal 
>say the audit is the first in the magazine's history. 
>"We're not talking about an attack on conservative 
>philosophy, per se," says attorney William Wewer,
>a specialist in nonprofit law. "Clinton doesn't 
>care about ideas. He cares about power and he's 
>using the most feared enforcement tool in the government 
>to attack people who are opposing him politically. 
>He's using government to achieve personal political 
>The IRS denies any political motivations for its 
>choices. Yet not a single prominent public policy 
>organization friendly to the Clinton administration 
>has apparently been targeted for audit in the same 
>period, according to two random samples and research 
>into the non-profit community. Many tax-exempt 
>organizations are, however, loath to discuss such 
>matters because of its potentially devastating 
>impact on fund-raising efforts. 
>According to Wewer, who represents about a thousand 
>charities, the groups singled out include many 
>which have challenged the Clinton administration 
>in a "high-profile fashion." 
>"Every one of our clients who is under audit has 
>taken on the Clinton administration vigorously,
>usually through a direct mail campaign," he says. 
>His observation applies to most of the groups so 
>far identified. 
>For example, there was the American Policy Center 
>and its "Fire Jocelyn Elders" campaign in 1993. 
>In addition to a request for contributions, would-
>be donors were asked to mail an enclosed card to 
>President Clinton demanding prompt dismissal of 
>the former surgeon general. About six months ago,
>the group was notified that it was being audited. 
>"The idea that someone can write to them and say 
>'I don't like their politics, so go investigate 
>them' is outrageous," says APC President Tom DeWeese,
>The IRS claims it is increasingly dependent on 
>these "citizen complaints" and maintains the ongoing 
>investigation and audit of APC is simply normal 
>routine checking. Wewer dismisses that idea as 
>"I know of many citizen complaints that never get 
>acted on," he says. "I've filed several myself 
>against organizations that were promoting terrorism 
>-- some of the extreme green groups and animal 
>rights groups. Nothing was done, not even when 
>I laid out the entire case for them." 
>Then there's the strange case of the newly formed 
>Wisconsin non-profit Fortress America. Just last 
>November the group received its 501(c)4 tax-exempt 
>status--a classification that entitles the organization 
>to engage in some lobbying and political activities. 
>A month later Fortress America sent out a fund-
>raising letter that was critical of Hillary Clinton. 
>In January, two IRS agents began investigating 
>the group. 
>Fortress America is so new it hadn't even filed 
>its first tax return, hence, no actual audit was 
>possible. Washington attorney Alan Dye, who represents 
>the targeted group, says he can't recall being 
>involved in a case where the IRS began investigating 
>an organization before an audit was even begun. 
>"The coincidence of this occurring within 30 days 
>of a negative letter about Hillary Clinton is pretty 
>striking," Dye observes. "If the IRS doesn't mean 
>to be biased, they're doing everything they can 
>to make it look like they are." 
>Another IRS target was Amy Moritz Ridenour's National 
>Center for Public Policy Research. The group played 
>a prominent role in the political defeat of the 
>Clinton health-care plan in 1993 and 1994, focusing 
>public attention on Hillary Clinton's role withe 
>the president's advisory task force and its secret 
>meetings. In 1995, the group was audited. The group 
>also challenged the first lady's access to classified 
>information, secured without a security clearance. 
>The group called for congressional hearings to 
>determine guidelines about such unprecendented 
>By IRS standards, the group's ordeal was brief 
>-- about two weeks. At one point during the examination,
>Ridenour asked the IRS field agent why the group 
>was targeted. The disturbing answer: "You probably 
>made someone mad." 
>"Now why would he say, 'probably'?" Ridenour wonders. 
>"You'd figure he'd say oh, it's just a routine 
>audit, even if that weren't true. To me it shows 
>there's an assumption at the IRS that decisions 
>[like who gets audited] are made for political 
>reasons. It must be part of the environment." 
>The Western Journalism Center shared a similar 
>experience. When an IRS field agent began asking 
>questions about the content of the group's work,
>the motivations for investigative reporting about 
>White House scandals and suggesting that the center 
>should be reclassified from an educational 501(c)3 
>status to a 501(c)4, group's accountant protested. 
>"Look," said Thomas Cederquist, the IRS auditor,
>"this is a political case and the decision is going 
>to be made at the national level." Asked what he 
>meant by that statement, Cederquist repeated it. 
>Only recently, months after the center went public 
>with accusations that the audit was politically 
>inspired was Cederquist replaced as the lead investigator 
>on the case. 
>None of this is surprising to Wewer who has been 
>involved in conservative political activism for 
>33 years. 
>"They're trying to destroy the very warp and woof 
>of what makes us work as a country," he said. "The 
>democratic system is a robust system, but it can 
>be very fragile when it comes to this type of attack." 
>In response to the Western Journalism Center's 
>story of apparently politically motivated IRS audits 
>broken last fall in the Wall Street Journal, Congress' 
>Joint Committee on Taxation began an investigation. 
>Hearings are set to begin some time next month 
>and a final report will be issued in September. 
>Last February, IRS Commissioner Margaret Milner 
>Richardson, a long-time political ally and friend 
>of the Clintons and a self-described "yellow-dog 
>Democrat," announced she was stepping down from 
>her post to pursue other interests. The New York 
>Post, however, suggested in an editorial that the 
>revelations of politically motivated audits may 
>have been a central factor in her decision. No 
>replacement for Richardson has yet been named.
>-> Send "subscribe   snetnews " to majordomo@world.std.com
>->  Posted by: kalliste@aci.net (J. Orlin Grabbe)

Paul Andrew Mitchell                 : Counselor at Law, federal witness
B.A., Political Science, UCLA;  M.S., Public Administration, U.C. Irvine

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