The bottom line is the IRS scandal, isn’t. The IRS didn’t select Conservative groups exclusively for additional scrutiny. Nor were any denied exemption nor subject to audit. They were subject to paperwork. The scandal is the IRS doesn’t have appropriate and clear guidelines to judge what to look for in processing 501(c) 4 applications nor the manpower to review more of them. It’s scandalous that prior to adequate and appropriate review the IRS was successfully targeted by Anti-Government extremism engaged in political warfare. Until substantive evidence emerges to suggest that Conservative groups were targeted on some other criteria than flagging for generic monikers like “Tea Party” or with special intent to undermine an individual group specifically, the scandal is that the IRS affair is seriously regarded as scandal.
The scandal is that Anti-Government political organizations like the Tea Party successfully registered as 501(c)4s at all rather than designating themselves as 527s -as any forthright and legitimate organization which was engaged in political activity would do. The single reason for not doing so is to evade disclosure. Filing as a 527 would require Tea Party (and the plethora of Conservative groups designating themselves as social welfare organizations) to disclose their donors. In short, the single reason for choosing a 501 (c) 4 rather than a 527 is to game the system. In other words, to scam the government and to scam the American people.
By taking the route that astro-turfed Tea Party and other facade groups have taken facilitates political intimidation of elected officials via stealth attack ads funded by illegitimate social welfare organizations – 501(c) 4s. This, they have proven they will do, and in no short measure, during the last presidential election.
Make no mistake, that Democratic organizations responded in cold-war fashion by establishing their own “social welfare” arsenal to avoid a “funding war gap” is equally unacceptable. One place to start unwinding from fallacious “scandal” to reasonable fix is to make the rules hard to game. Make it simple. Just as it is with regulatory measures, clear, simple rules are difficult to break. Designate 501(c)4s only for social welfare organizations with no lobbying arm whatsoever and designate 527s for political activity and lobbying of any and all kind.