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Regulatory Action Center: End of April 2017 Update

Upcoming Event: RAC Training with West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey Saturday, May 20, 2017, 10 am – 12 pm, Hilton Garden Inn, Martinsburg, West Virginia

This event will feature a keynote address by Attorney General Morrisey, a panel discussion with Dr. Wayne Brough, FreedomWorks Foundation’s Chief Economist and other regulatory policy experts (confirmations pending), and an activist training on how to effectively engage in the regulatory process by RAC Manager Patrick Hedger.

Campaigns: In late March the RAC launched two campaigns and is preparing to launch a third this week. All target rules that are both economically harmful and demonstrate abuse of bureaucratic power.

IRS: First, the RAC targeted an existing IRS regulation creating further corruption at the troubled agency. In 2014, the IRS began hiring outside firms to conduct principle functions of audits. Realizing this likely violated the law, the IRS unilaterally passed a new regulation to justify the practice. In the first example of the IRS outsourcing audits, the agency hired a law firm with deep ties to Apple, Oracle, and Google to audit Microsoft—a clear conflict of interest. This regulation is an example of both poor public policy and an abuse of the rule-making process. In less than a month, FreedomWorks Foundation generated roughly 11,000 signatures on a petition to rescind this regulation, which will be delivered directly to the Treasury Department next week. An opinion editorial on this topic by RAC General Council Ken Cuccinelli was also published in The Hill.

FDA: The second campaign involves another abuse of the rule-making process. On January 19th, in the very last hours of the Obama administration, the FDA announced a regulation on smokeless tobacco products without any advanced notice of rule-making—a departure from past rules of this type. The proposed rule would amount to a de-facto ban on smokeless tobacco products produced by American farmers and firms. Again, this is an improper way to formulate new rules. The FDA clearly sought to skirt public scrutiny by hiding behind the inauguration and long-weekend for many in Washington. FreedomWorks Foundation, through a RAC email marketing campaign, has foiled the FDA’s secrecy, driving between 1500 and 2000 comments (and climbing) on Regulations.gov opposing this rule. The rule is now trending on the front page of Regulations.gov. FreedomWorks Foundation will continue to drive comments through July 10th, the close of the public comment period. Formal comments from FreedomWorks Foundation policy experts are being researched and drafted at this time.

FCC: Finally, the RAC is launching a campaign in support of expected FCC rules aimed at rolling back the Obama administration’s effort to reclassify the internet as a public utility. The RAC will be directing comments from FreedomWorks Foundation activists in support of this rule-making, hosting multiple events with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s office, submitting formal comments from multiple Foundation policy experts, conducting a media campaign involving live appearances and op-eds, and producing a policy whitepaper to better educate activists on this very technical issue.