This week's Democratic rally-round further highlights the intensely political nature of their IRS rule. It was quietly dropped in the runup to the holiday season, to minimize the likelihood of an organized protest during its comment period. That 90-day comment period meantime ends on Feb. 27, positioning the administration to shut down conservative groups early in this election cycle.
Mr. Camp's committee has meanwhile noted that Treasury appears to have reverse-engineered the carefully tailored rulecombing through the list of previously targeted tea party groups, compiling a list of their main activities and then restricting those functions.
And an IRS rule that purports toas Mr. Werfel explained"improve our work in the tax-exempt area" completely ignores the biggest of political players in the tax-exempt area: unions. The guidance is directed only at 501(c)(4) social-welfare groupsthe tax category that has of late been flooded by conservative groups. Mr. Obama's union foot soldierswhich file under 501(c)(5)can continue playing in politics.
In order to legally run a tax-exempt charity intended to educate voters about political issues, a category of speech which receives the highest degree of First Amendment protection and which the Supreme Court recently reaffirmed in the Citizens United decision, you must ask permission and submit to harassment from the Internal Revenue Service in order to have it not tax you.