Cleta Mitchell: IRS Rules Show 'Rogue, Lawless Agency'

Friday, 31 Jan 2014 01:06 PM

By Melanie Batley

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The IRS is a "rogue, lawless agency" and "the enforcement arm for the Democratic Party," which seems obvious from the new rules it has proposed to stop tax-exempt groups — many of which are conservative — from organizing political activities, says Cleta Mitchell.

Mitchell, a prominent Washington lawyer who represents tea party groups that were targeted by the Internal Revenue Service for heightened scrutiny, contends the proposals violate the First Amendment and represent an attempt by the administration to silence groups that may be critical of Democrats and their policies.

"We are in a death struggle over the First Amendment and the right of the citizens of this country to criticize their government," Mitchell told The Washington Times on Thursday.

"There are some of us who are going to do everything we can do to stand in front of that IRS tank in Tiananmen Square. We are going to do everything we can to slow these down."

The new IRS rules would prevent 501 (c)(4) tax-exempt groups from running television ads, organizing get-out-the-vote efforts and voter registration drives, and handing out literature on political issues.

Mitchell sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget this week on behalf of tea party groups requesting the IRS and Treasury Department look into whether the proposed rules comply with the Paperwork Reduction Act, the Regulatory Flexibility Act, and other related executive orders, according to the Times.

She also asked for all the internal and external documents the administration used while drafting the newly proposed rules, and is considering filing a lawsuit demanding that the comment period on the changes — which is scheduled to end Feb. 27 — is extended until she receives the information requested, the Times reports.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday ratcheted up the pressure on the Obama administration by calling on new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to reject the proposed regulations.

"The new IRS commissioner has a simple choice: He can either restore the public's trust in an agency whose reputation was already in doubt, or he can allow himself to be used as a political pawn by an administration that now seems willing to do anything to keep those it disagrees with from fully exercising their constitutionally-protected right to free speech," the Kentucky Republican said in remarks on the Senate floor.

Since the announcement in November of the proposed changes, conservative groups have been vocal in their opposition, saying the new rules are the latest attempt by the administration to silence them.

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