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Former FEC chairman -- on the IRS targeting -- -- part of a long term assault.
-- first amendment rights former chairman of the Federal Election Commission Bradley Smith joins us good evening -- there.
Tiger had initially -- -- nice getting used to explain to -- why it's part of a long term assault on the First Amendment this scandal.
Well for many years people in the names of in the name of campaign finance reform have essentially tried -- shot up political speech they don't agreement.
Sometimes they don't agree with it because it's funded by what they called big money so let's -- and more often just don't agree with it.
And what you have here for example is a classic effort to.
Put pressure on conservative groups nobody suggests these groups are corrupting officeholders or anything.
They just don't like these groups and so they put them under attack they've harassed their donors they have.
Bob or tied him up in legal proceedings and generally attempted to make it tough for them to speak out on politics.
I think one of the most painful things about this always with -- this whole -- scanner is not so much -- the organizations.
-- denied tax exempt staff are 501 C four status.
But that there are put into a holding pattern because -- you're in a holding pattern while they keep asking for more information send you another question or whatever you're denied the ability to even appeal adverse decision they would have been better off.
When -- know a denial than to be put this Limbaugh mean that's actually the -- -- -- is the more troubling aspect is it -- put this hold the holding and holding -- that position.
And there's nothing they could -- But I try to put some in the sort of limbo with their release told no then they can go about some other course of action to do -- they want to do.
But what is going on here with this sort of holding action at this strange is that there's no tax benefit at all to the F deeper to the IRS holding them up that is to say.
They don't tax exempt groups these groups want to be 501 -- force right.
Those groups don't pay taxes if they were not 501 C -- they would have had to be qualified is 520 seven's you just sections of the tax code.
520 sevens don't pay taxes either.
What is the difference 520 seven's are regulated more heavily as political groups they have to expose their donors.
Many people have nothing duties as just their general membership lists all have to be made public.
And then these people are often harassed and bullied.
They fear official government retaliation in the fear unofficial retaliation.
And -- left in this limbo and -- what's really weird is that you don't have to get IRS permission to be a -- for -- the IRS by harassing these groups is just.
Making it more like it in the future to -- shall apply -- -- status at all that to start operating.
And then you don't know at all what they're doing if they're operating legally or not so the -- cents a shooting itself in the foot and why's it doing it.
This -- anybody can tell it's because of the general hostility.
Political activity by conservative groups also I think just by new groups and by outside groups groups that haven't been players in the field already.
-- it's very difficult to prove things like discrimination and that's essentially what what this is this discrimination.
And I suppose -- the most effective way would be is if the IRS would sort of opened the door and let us have an accounting of how many liberal groups.
Or progressive groups had this type of analysis or scrutiny.
Compared to the number of conservative or Tea Party groups mean that it sees me would be a good start to agree or not.
Why do it takes us back to your original point would it be really nice she everybody's talking about is they're smoking gun is there direct trail leading back to the White House.
I think that's really kind of their autonomy would be big news if there was.
But the real story here is creating this culture of harassment -- -- deal that participating in politics.
Is somehow a bad thing and that these Tea Party groups were being bad.
You know in in 2010 at about the time the -- begin this targeting.
President Obama on at least four occasions specifically suggested that maybe these were front groups for -- -- operations David actual -- has close consultant.
Made that accusation directly and so -- numerous other underlings at one point President Obama called -- a problem for democracy.
And then two weeks later he upped that to a threat to democracy.
So when you have your leaders pregnant putting that kind of thing out there.
When you have senator baucus and senator Schumer and senator Franken and senator Berkeley and senator Shaheen and several other democratic senators.
Writing to the IRS saying these groups are dangerous you need to investigate them.
What do we think the IRS is gonna do their people they read this they see this they know these are powerful people were telling him these groups are threat to democracy you need to get them.
And that's the real scandal west not the -- -- smoking gun.
Well then then then then he had -- to the next chapter which is not they've gotten caught with their pants down.
Not they've been caught targeting is at now what's the explanation for the leader what's the culture the culture now -- evolved.
But the president now says it's phony it's phony for someone to feel wronged by having been unfairly scrutinized.
So not to serve to continue sort of you know your narrative is now the president.
Is saying it's phone -- and like this is no big deal that's the message you send -- to the script.
Well I think that's right that that adds to the idea -- but that that this isn't a scandalous -- argument that.
Some have been trying to make these groups -- what they're getting he had problems with the -- wasn't tough enough on them.
And this again to me is -- a real problem in our society we should be encouraging this kinda grassroots political participation.
And the Tea Party movement is nothing if not grass -- it truly is a wonderfully spontaneous organic movement.
We should be encouraging that not saying this is a bad thing is certainly the president in various senators should not be after seeing these people are threat to our democracy investigate and check them harassed them slow them up.
Well I just wish that some members to me would actually go on talk to Tea Party members and final lob their teachers -- you know there.
There are shopkeepers.
There airline pilots a little bit of everything but they have been demonized considerably this grassroots organization which is it -- a stunning of I think I don't think the media is even spoken to them and -- them a different view but I think the last word on that thank you sir.