The Internal Revenue Service is in the news. Since everyone has concerns about paying taxes and what our money is used for (by us, by the way) it's become a top story. For animal welfare and animal rights advocates, it's even reached into our limited concerns. Eric Holder, United States Attorney, ordered an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation when it was alleged that the IRS had singled out groups filing for tax exempt status using the terms "tea party" in their application. The reason given was that these organizations may be using the 501c3 status for political activism which is an inappropriate use of that particular tax status. The investigation revealed that groups using certain phrases tended toward conservative political beliefs. Groups using liberal leaning phrases were also investigated but at a much lower rate. So is the current Democratic administration using the IRS to investigate or restrict it's likely opponents?
I would have considered this a hyped up story IF Lois Lerner, a senior official at the IRS, who became a target of the investigation, in part because she used her personal eMail to discuss investigations of tax exempt applicants, but also because she had authority over agents who admitted targeting certain groups, had simply testified before congress. She could have explained that political action groups applying for 501c3 status SHOULD instead apply for 501c4 status, which allows for lobbying but requires a different type of reporting of donors. "Tea Party" is an obvious indicator that a group will be involved in political action. Case closed.
But Ms. Lerner did not clear up the difficulties and pleaded the 5th. There is some discussion about the plea because the 5th Amendment of the constitution allows a person to recuse herself from testifying if the testimony will be harmful to herself. This makes sense because people are likely to lie if they are asked to report illegal activities in which they were involved. Their testimony is not reliable if they WERE involved, anyway. But Ms. Lerner both pleaded the 5th AND made a statement that she was innocent of the charges. This is NOT a proper use of the constitutional amendment which allows you to refuse to testify. If you refuse, you do not also get to address the court without cross examination. Legal questions for another day.
This relates to Borzoi and dogs in general because several members of congress requested investigation of the 501c3 status of a political action group, the Humane Society of the United States. The investigation along the very same lines of the questions asked of conservative leaning groups was never undertaken. It turns out that Lois Lerner is an active supporter of the HSUS. Now, I'm not so sure that IRS employees have not used their position to further personal political goals.
This is important to me, and should be to all dog owners, because the HSUS takes in hundreds of millions of dollars every YEAR, and uses them in a large part to limit the uses, activities and rights of anyone who works with animals. They do this because a political animal rights agenda includes ending the use of animals for every purpose, including companionship. Those who speak openly about the goals of animal rights, like Gary Ascione, clearly explain that it is morally abhorrent to them that humans eat animals but also that they meet any needs through the life of other species. They do not want medical research to use animals or police to use dogs or hunters to take deer and feed their families.
Wayne Pacelle, the current leader of HSUS, espouses these same beliefs. He was vocal about them in his previous position as leader of the Fund for Animals, which has merged with HSUS. He currently claims that HSUS has a more moderate position on these issues and that he can operate against his personal beliefs in favor of the current HSUS Board directives to support the ownership or "guardianship" of companion animals.
If this political action group can amass a fortune under the tax exempt status, but a start up group that uses the term "tea party" in it's application is prohibited from even completing the application process, I have concerns about the IRS "scandal" after all. Just when you think dogs are safe from the political news, you are reminded it's all politics, all the time.