Cheetahs Never Prosper!
In all fairness to the IRS, its softball team was named the "Cheetahs" long before this latest scandal! But it seems especially appropriate now, after what many are calling the worst corruption case since Watergate. Leading up to the 2012 elections, the IRS engaged in some of the most vicious ideological censorship in U.S. history, systematically silencing almost 500 conservative groups.
In more than two years (since February 2010), the IRS hasn't approved a single tea party application for nonprofit status. Individuals who had ties to conservative causes were targeted for audits. Donor rolls of entire organizations were leaked to the press. And all of it was done with the agency's full knowledge--if not approval. One by one, the IRS tried to pick off the President's opponents, using one of the most powerful tools in the President's shed: the revenue-collecting arm of the federal government.
Even Democrats seem stunned at the depth of misconduct. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who called ObamaCare a "train wreck" earlier this month, thinks this is just the tip of the iceberg. "I have a hunch that a lot more is going to come out, frankly," he said on Bloomberg.
Yesterday, his hunch was right. ABC News reported Thursday night that the chief of the IRS's tax-exempt division, the one who oversaw the heckling of Christian and conservative groups, is none other than Sarah Hall Ingram. Ingram, who raked in more than $103,000 in bonuses (probably for her exemplary targeting of right-wing groups), was recently promoted. She now oversees the largest power expansion in IRS history, as head of the agency's ObamaCare program office. That's right. The person who now administers the ObamaCare mandate and penalties, the one enforcing the IRS's 47 new regulatory powers, is a woman with a history of political bullying.
Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) can add that to the reasons why members should support his new bill, "Keep the IRS off Your Health Care Act" (H.R. 2009). Under the legislation, theIRS would be barred from enforcing the health care law. Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) added to the slate of legislative reaction with a measure to ban the discriminatory scrutiny of taxpayers by the IRS and other government agencies. Congressman Randy Forbes (R-Va.), meanwhile, wants to freeze the IRS from hiring new employees to implement ObamaCare. And our friends at the National Organization for Marriage, whose confidential donor lists were leaked in the heat of the election, got a boost when Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) joined House Republicans in calling for an investigation into the criminal activity that would have led to the breach.
Democrats, of course, refuse to be left out of the bill-writing party. But instead of drafting legislation that would address the crises, liberals seem content to make them worse. Senate Democrats are lining up behind a bill that's similar to (and in some ways worse) than the DISCLOSE Act, which would significantly clamp down on groups' free speech rights. And who do they want to tap to police this campaign effort? The IRS! Honestly, you can't make this stuff up! Under the bill, the IRS would be doing openly what it had been doing secretly through tax-exempt applications: regulating political speech. "The IRS, an agency with no campaign finance expertise, would be granted the authority to levy stiff tax penalties and strip nonprofit status from groups that violate--even unintentionally--the bill's provisions."
Like White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who "dismisses the idea that these are scandals," liberals must be in denial about the enormity of the IRS's wrongdoing. Fortunately, the GOP is not. And if they can harness the momentum, Republicans can finally push for the tax code reform and thatAmerica's been waiting for!
We Heard It through the Grapevine...
Next week at this time, the Boy Scouts will finally have an answer on the organization's membership code. Yesterday, an impressive group of religious and cultural leaders hinted at what that answer should be. "We strongly support the Boy Scouts of America's current prohibition on open homosexuality and retaining it without revision... In our current culture," the allies write, "it's more important than ever for our churches to protect and provide moral nurture for young people and for the Scouts. We implore members of the upcoming BSA Council to affirm the present policy..."
People from across America also had a say in the 40 cities where OnMyHonor.net hosted rallies yesterday in support of the Scouts' longstanding values. The final stand will be held next Wednesday, May 22, in Grapevine, Texas from noon to 4:00 p.m. with a coalition of groups, including FRC, OnMyHonor.Net, Texas Values, and others. There, at the location of the National Annual Meeting, parents, Scoutmasters, Eagle Scouts, pastors, and other supporters will gather to welcome delegates and encourage them to stand strong on the tradition of integrity. For more information, click here.
Here in Washington, the debate continues to heat up, as FRC's Cathy Ruse joined a panel of speakers at the Heritage Foundation to explain the issues facing the Scouts (click below for the video). She followed up that performance with a column for Real Clear Religion, explaining why the Catholic Scouts "won't go gay." Read why here.
Buckner Is No Deal Breaker!
If you're looking for a hero in the fight over religious liberty, try Georgia. There, Republican Governor Nathan Deal refused to budge on his decision to allow Bibles in the Georgia State Parkcabins. Ed Buckner, a former head of American Atheists, challenged the Gideons' bedside placements when he vacationed in the Peach State. At a state-run lodge, he found Bibles in the nightstands and complained to the local Department of Natural Resources that they were unconstitutional. As a precaution, state officials removed the books until the Attorney General's office could review the case.
This week, the Governor announced that his administration had come to the conclusion that the Bibles are perfectly legal and ordered the parks to replace the books. "The attorney general and I agree that the state is on firm footing as we move to return the Bibles to rooms. These Bibles are donated by outside groups--not paid for by the state--and I do not believe that a Bible in a bedside table drawer constitutes a state establishment of religion," Gov. Deal said. "In fact, any group is free to donate literature." Now that's leadership!
Putting Families on Top Down Under
On Thursday, FRC's Pat Fagan gave one of the keynote addresses during the first day of the World Congress of Families, being held this year in Sydney, Australia. This is the seventh time the international gathering of pro-family leaders and activists has taken place, this year under the theme "Happy Families--Healthy Economy: A New Vision for National Prosperity and Social Progress." So it's no surprise that Pat was chosen to share some of the powerful original research generated by FRC's Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI), which he directs, under the heading, "What Families Are Best for the Economy?" Other key speakers included the former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia John Anderson and (via video) Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia of the Pontifical Council for the Family at the Vatican.
Peter Sprigg, FRC Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, is representing Family Research Council as a delegate at his fifth consecutive World Congress. Pro-family forces around the world face similar challenges. For example, Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First New Zealand, recounted how his organization was "de-registered" as a charitable organization following their unsuccessful fight to protect the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman (sound like the IRS attack on conservative groups?), on grounds that their research is mere "propaganda" (sound like the Southern Poverty Law Center?). McCoskrie's advice applies to social conservatives worldwide: "Get a backbone--and fight on!"
** You can learn a lot about this White House from its deportation priorities. Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison explain in a new Townhall op-ed, "Presidential Preference: The Romeikes and Imam Rauf."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.