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Coalition Letter: 60 CONSERVATIVE AND FREE MARKET GROUPS SUPPORT H.R. 3865

FreedomWorks and 59 other major conservative and free market groups have signed onto the following coalition letter by American Commitment, urging Congress to pass the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act, H.R. 3865.

February 25, 2014

Dear Members of Congress:

We urge you to vote yes on H.R. 3865, the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act of 2014.

The IRS confessed to targeting conservative groups in a stunning abuse of power. Now the IRS proposes a draconian rule limiting the lawful activities of these same groups and all others organized under Section 501(c)(4).

The proposed rule would restrict the free speech rights of 501(c)(4) groups by arbitrarily deeming political a wide variety of activities to be in the newly-created category of “Candidate-Related Political Activity,” which would include voter registration drives, candidate debates, voter guides, voting records and key votes. It would restrict any criticism of an incumbent federal, state, or local politician within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election and effectively require groups to remove any reference to politicians from their websites during these windows. It even distorts the definition of "candidate" to include appointees, so groups weighing in on executive or judicial nominations would be restricted.

As the American Civil Liberties Union commented to the IRS:

Most social welfare organizations - on both the left and right — serve exactly that function as they see it, the promotion of social welfare and community good. Based on their respective visions, they advocate for the powerless and the voiceless. They promote fiscal responsibility and good government. They serve as a check on government overreach, or as a cheerleader for sound public policy.

In many of these functions, social welfare organizations praise or criticize candidates for public office on the issues and they should be able to do so freely, without fear of losing or being denied tax-exempt status, even if doing so could influence a citizen’s vote. Such advocacy is at the heart of our representative democracy. To the extent it influences voting, it does so by promoting an informed citizenry.

The rule proceeds from the false assumption that political engagement and discussion of public policy issues and the merits of nominees who implement them cannot be part and parcel of a social welfare mission. This is not what the law requires and it is inconsistent with longstanding historical practice and understanding.

While Section 501(c)(3) of the tax code specifically bars those organizations from engaging in political activity, no such prohibition exists in Section 501(c)(4). There is therefore no statutory basis for imposing the restrictions the IRS proposes.

The apparent rush from the IRS to implement this ill-considered rule in the middle of the current tax year must be stopped.

H.R. 3865 is a modest measure that would simply prohibit the IRS from finalizing the rule this year, giving it adequate time to consider all of the practical, statutory, and constitutional criticisms of its proposal – as well as giving investigators time to complete their investigations into the targeting scandal before deciding what, if any, legal reforms are appropriate.

We therefore urge you to vote YES on H.R. 3865.

Sincerely, Jim Martin Chairman 60 Plus Association

Melissa Ortiz Founder/Principal Able Americans

Phil Kerpen President American Commitment

Dan Schneider Executive Director American Conservative Union

Thomas Pyle President American Energy Alliance

Gary L. Bauer President American Values

Brent Gardner Director of Federal Affairs Americans for Prosperity

Grover Norquist President Americans for Tax Reform

John Tate President Campaign for Liberty

Sean Noble President Center to Protect Patient Rights

Jeffrey Mazzella President Center for Individual Freedom

Matt Patterson Executive Director Center for Worker Freedom

Elaine Donnelly President Center for Military Readiness

Chris Chocola President Club for Growth

Gary Aldrich President and Chairman of the Board CNP Action, Inc.

Penny Nance President and CEO Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee

Peter J. Thomas Chairman The Conservative Caucus

Richard Viguerie Chairman ConservativeHQ.com

Mattie Duppler Executive Director Cost of Government Center

Thomas A. Schatz President Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Brian Baker President Ending Spending

Ralph Reed Chairman Faith & Freedom Coalition

Larry Cirignano President Faithful Catholic Citizens

Dick Patten President Family Business Defense Council

Sandy Rios Vice President Family Pac Federal

David Christensen VP of Government Affairs Family Research Council

David Bozell Executive Director ForAmerica

James S. Gilmore III President Free Congress Action

Coley Jackson President Freedom Action

Matt Kibbe President FreedomWorks

George Landrith President Frontiers of Freedom

Larry Pratt Executive Director Gun Owners of America

Michael Needham Chief Executive Officer Heritage Action

Mario H. Lopez President Hispanic Leadership Fund

Michael Smith, Esq. President Home School Legal Defense Association

Heather R. Higgins President Independent Women’s Voice

Andrew Langer President Institute for Liberty

Seton Motley President Less Government

Colin A. Hanna President Let Freedom Ring

Mathew Staver Chairman Liberty Counsel Action

Tom McClusky VP of Government Affairs March for Life

Dee Hodges President Maryland Taxpayers Association

Lew Uhler President National Tax Limitation Committee

Brandon Arnold VP of Government Affairs National Taxpayers Union

Roy Beck President NumbersUSA

Paul Caprio Director Patriotic Veterans

Dave Wallace, II Founder Restore America's Mission

Ken Hoagland Chairman Restore America's Voice

Lawrence A. Hunter President Social Security Institute

David Williams President Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Amy Kremer Chairman Tea Party Express

Judson Phillips President Tea Party Nation

Jennifer Martin President & Co-Founder Tea Party Patriots

Todd Cefaratti Founder TheTeaParty.Net

C. Preston Noell III President Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.

Andrea Lafferty President Traditional Values Coalition

Carl Bearden Executive Director United for Missouri

Susan Carleson Chairman/President Welfare Reform Action Fund

Morton Blackwell Chairman The Weyrich Lunch

Ron Robinson President Young America's Foundation