The NY Times is reporting that the IRS is firing a warning shot across the bow of donors to 501(c)(4) groups engaging in political advocacy by sending letters to five unnamed donors saying that their donations might be subject to gift taxes. In addition to reading between the lines as to how Obama and the IRS could manipulate this to Democratic advantage, it’s also interesting to examine how the NYT spins the story.
Big donors like David H. Koch and George Soros could owe taxes on their millions of dollars in contributions to nonprofit advocacy groups that are playing an increasing role in American politics.
These advocacy groups have been drawing more scrutiny, from President Obama as well as others, as they have proliferated and funneled vast sums of money in support of campaigns and causes, without having to publicly disclose their donors.
This comes on the heels of Democrats announcing that they – because Republicans do it – are planning to use secret money in the 2012 election. Gee, of the two people named in the first paragraph, I wonder which one of them is more likely to draw IRS scrutiny?
After naming Koch and Soros in the first paragraph, let’s see how balanced the NYT is in the rest of the article.
– Paragraph 4: Crossroads GPS / Karl Rove
– Paragraph 4: Americans for Prosperity / Koch brothers
– Paragraph 5: No comment from the Koch brothers or Soros
– Paragraph 14: Rove and the Kochs and their groups get another mention
– Paragraph 15: Only if you make it this far, after several instances of naming non-liberal groups, do they admit that liberals are doing it too.
Democrats have embraced the model, too. Bill Burton, Mr. Obama’s former deputy press secretary, was skewered by critics of these groups for creating Priorities USA Action to help Democrats. In 2009 and 2010, Mr. Soros, the billionaire investor, donated more than $12 million to advocacy groups.
But even this is completely misleading of the true situation. The article reads like this when you put the pieces together:
– Obama was a great fund-raiser for the 2008 election.
– Republicans started using all these shadowy donations in response.
– Purely out of fairness for the election process, the Democrats had to follow suit.
It’s as if George Soros had never spent a political dime until after the Kochs and Rove started doing it. And there’s no mention of Peter Lewis or any others who’ve donated tens of millions to liberal political groups for the past decade.