IRS Strips Conservative Group of Tax-Exempt Status Over Anti-Hillary Remarks

The IRS has stripped a conservative group of its tax-exempt status following the group’s repeated criticism of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her successor, John Kerry.

FILE - This March 22, 2013 file photo shows the exterior of the Internal Revenue Service building in Washington. An Internet connection, a tax return form and a stolen identity are enough to fuel a multi-billion-dollar criminal enterprise that has proven too pervasive to stop. Thanks in part to technological simplicity and controls that struggle to keep pace with the crime, thieves are pocketing billions of dollars in stolen federal tax refunds. Over the last year, the IRS paid out $4 billion in bogus tax refunds to fraudsters using someone else’s personal information. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File

The Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty “has shown a pattern of deliberate and consistent intervention in political campaigns” and made “repeated statements supporting or opposing various candidates by expressing its opinion of the respective candidate’s character and qualifications,” the IRS said in a written determination explaining its decision to revoke the group’s status.

Losing its tax-exempt status means contributions to the Virginia-based conservative group are no longer tax deductible.

The Patrick Henry Center was among several organizations listed in a February notice that had lost their tax-exempt status, but the IRS letter released Friday explained the agency’s reasoning for doing so.

Although the Patrick Henry Center’s name was redacted from the IRS letter, the case aligns closely with recent statements made by leaders of the conservative group, USA Today reported.

The IRS said the group forfeited its status by promoting regularly politically charged articles written by Patrick Henry Center founder Gary Aldrich, a former FBI agent.

In a 2004 article, Aldrich wrote of then-Democratic presidential candidate Kerry, “if John Kerry promises otherwise ill-informed swing-voters lower gas prices at the pump, more than a few greedy, registered ignoramuses will follow him anywhere.”

In another anti-Kerry article in 2004, Aldrich wrote: “I’m quite certain Senator John Kerry will be a ‘hero’ to today’s peaceniks, anarchists and any others who hate Amerika. But for the more than 50,000 Vietnam Veterans whose names appear on the Vietnam Memorial, Senator John Kerry is nothing but a skunk.”

“Let’s see what happens when he brings his medals to the first presidential debate. I’m willing to bet George W. Bush will have no trouble dealing with this coward,” he wrote.

These articles were posted to the group’s website and distributed to various conservative news sites.

Later, in 2005, Aldrich wrote an article titled, “Stop Hillary Now!” The article encouraged “Clinton haters” to get out the word on Hillary’s “atrocious conduct,” the Washington Times reported.

By promoting these articles with alerts on its website, the IRS said, the Patrick Henry Center acted as an “action organization,” thereby violating rules that state tax-exempt groups, in this case a 501(c)(3), must refrain from engaging in electoral politics.

Here’s the IRS letter:

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said last week that his agency and the U.S. Treasury Department are discussing defining the meaning of “candidate-related political activities.”

“My bottom line is that it’s in everyone’s interest to have clarification,” he said in an interview with the Washington Post. “My position since I started more than four months ago is that we ought to have clarity, and that any rule that comes out ought to be fair and easy to administer.”

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