Tags: America's Forum | cleta mitchell | tea party | irs | regulations | free speech | rights

Cleta Mitchell: Proposed IRS Changes Should Not Be Done Secretly

Friday, 23 May 2014 03:58 PM

By Courtney Coren


The fact that the Internal Revenue Service is going to revise regulations affecting the political speech of nonprofit groups is "obviously a win," but the federal agency should handle the matter differently, says Washington attorney Cleta Mitchell.

"What I wish they would have said is 'we realize that people feel very strongly about this, and we're not going to issue any regulations on this,'" Mitchell told J.D. Hayworth and Morgan Thompson on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV.

"I wish they would have said that 'if we do decide that we need regulations, we're going to have hearings first and hear what people have to say, and we're not going to continue this process in secret behind closed doors,'" she said. "So that's the part that worries me, is what are they going to do next?"

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The IRS released a statement Thursday saying that it will rewrite regulations that were proposed at the end of 2013 that place further limits on the political speech and activity of nonprofit groups, a move that angered conservative groups, who said it restricted their free speech rights. The IRS reportedly received a record number of negative feedback about the proposed regulation, leading the agency to decide to make a change.

However, the IRS only plans to hold one public hearing on what those revised regulations will be, and that will not take place until after the regulations are published.

Mitchell said that this is not how it is supposed to be done.

"Every agency, every federal agency is supposed to publish online and you're supposed to be able to look and see what regulations they're working on," she explained. "Except, they didn't do that. They didn't add this rule making to their plans until two days before they issued it."

The Washington attorney said that the reason the IRS must function in such secrecy is because "the things that they do and the things that they're trying to do cannot withstand the scrutiny in the light of day."

And that is why she is not optimistic about what Mitchell thinks they will come up with.

"I have no reason to think that they're going to change their stripes and now all the sudden be concerned about the First Amendment and protecting First Amendment rights," the Washington attorney explained. "I think they're just going to issue something that's going to be equally deplorable and we're going to have to fight them again and then we'll probably have to sue them."

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