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Conservative group loses tax-exempt status for criticizing Clinton, Kerry

IRS strips conservative group of tax-exempt status for articles criticizing John Kerry, Hillary Clinton.
IRS strips conservative group of tax-exempt status for articles criticizing John Kerry, Hillary Clinton.
Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post/Getty Images

It's beginning to look as though the IRS is determined to silence conservative groups by any means necessary. On Monday, the Washington Times reported that the Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty, a conservative group based in Manassas, Va., lost its tax-exempt status over articles critical of John Kerry and Hillary Clinton.

According to the heavily-redacted IRS report released last Friday, the group “has shown a pattern of deliberate and consistent intervention in political campaigns” and made “repeated statements supporting or opposing various candidates by expressing its opinion of the respective candidate’s character and qualifications."

According to IRS rules, tax-exempt groups are not allowed to engage in certain political activity including participating in partisan campaigns in support or opposition to a candidate. The Patrick Henry Center violated this rule, the IRS said, by publishing “alerts” on its website highlighting columns by its president, former FBI agent and Clinton critic Gary Aldrich.

The agency cited a 2004 article that appears to have been published on Townhall as evidence. In that article, Aldrich wrote that “if John Kerry promises otherwise ill-informed swing-voters lower gas prices at the pump, more than a few greedy, registered ignoramuses will follow him anywhere.”

“I’m quite certain Senator John Kerry will be a ‘hero’ to today’s peaceniks, anarchists and any others who hate Amerika. But for the more than 50,000 Vietnam Veterans whose names appear on the Vietnam Memorial, Senator John Kerry is nothing but a skunk,” Aldrich said of Kerry in 2004.

It also cited a fundraising letter the Washington Free Beacon said drew from an article published in 2005. The article, written by Aldrich and posted at Townhall, was entitled: “Stop Hillary now!”

“There may not be a South Lawn barbecue party for Conservative political activists who work to keep Hillary from power – but they will march forth with a passion because they know the country will be better off without Hillary in the White House,” the article said.

Last week, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the Washington Post the IRS and Treasury Department will likely rewrite controversial draft guidelines to better define “candidate-related political activities.”

“My bottom line is that it’s in everyone’s interest to have clarification,” he told the Post. “My position since I started more than four months ago is that we ought to have clarity, and that any rule that comes out ought to be fair and easy to administer.”

The IRS said the revocation goes into effect July 1 unless the decision is successfully appealed. Losing its tax-exempt status means that donations to the group are no longer tax-deductible.

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