Since the IRS proposed new regulations of political activity by 501(c)4 nonprofit groups, the Religious Right has been up in arms, claiming that President Obama wants to use the regulations to “silence the Christians,” “silence conservatives,” and “eliminate his enemies.”
The only problem with this claim is that the proposed regulations wouldn’t actually target conservative groups – they would affect all 501(c)4 groups equally, including many progressive groups like People For the American Way. In fact, progressive groups have been split on the issue from the beginning, with some speaking out publicly against the proposed rules.
In a blog post today, the American Center For Law and Justice (ACLJ) freely admits this, announcing, “Thankfully, this time some groups on the Left are starting to see just how invasive and damaging to free speech (everyone’s free speech) this proposed rule would be.”
But in the very same blog post, ACLJ associate counsel Matthew Clark insists that “[t]he new rules are clearly an attempt to legitimize the targeting of conservative groups, giving color of law to the Obama Administration’s mission to silence conservative viewpoints in the social welfare arena.”
In fact, the ACLJ has a petition on its website claiming that the Obama administration wants to use the rules “to crack down on the free speech rights of conservatives.”
So which is it? Is the Obama administration using the proposed regulations to “silence conservative viewpoints” or would the rules affect “everyone’s free speech” equally?
This is beginning to sound a lot like the previous IRS “targeting scandal,” in which conservative groups claim they were politically targeted despite the fact that the program in question also affected plenty of progressive groups.