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Posts tagged ‘American Conservative Union’

Proposed IRS Regs Threaten GOP’s 2014 Senate Push.

Proposed new IRS regulations, combined with the intense ongoing scrutiny of grass-roots conservative groups, could suppress their get-out-the-vote activity enough to hand Democrats the one or two races they need to keep control of the Senate, conservative leaders warn.

“Once caught red-handed,” American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) Senior Counsel David French said, “the administration didn’t change its goal [of] suppressing the free speech of these conservative groups.

”It’s just shifted methods. The ends are the same, only the means have changed,” he says.

Of the 41 grassroots groups named as plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) — a case alleging widespread abuses of the First Amendment rights of assembly and free speech by the Obama administration and the IRS — 13 still have not yet received an adjudication on their request for non-profit status.

The oldest of those 13 pending applications to the IRS for nonprofit status dates back to December 2009, French says. That would mean at least one group has been sidelined through two election cycles, with a third rapidly approaching.

Of the 13 groups in limbo, two sought 501c3 non-profit status and the other 11 sought 501c4 status as “social welfare” organizations, French said.

According to the ACLJ, five other groups joined the lawsuit after withdrawing their nonprofit applications due to frustration over the IRS approval process. Also, two of the plaintiffs refused to answer IRS questions that they considered unconstitutional, which led to the IRS closing their nonprofit applications without further consideration.

The proposed new IRS regulations seek to limit 501c4 groups’ activities. Conservative activists say the rules have exacerbated their sense of uncertainty and intimidation.

“Of course that has a chilling effect,” says French. “And until it is decisively and emphatically stopped through public, legal accountability, that chilling effect is likely to linger.”

Washington GOP super lawyer Cleta Mitchell, who represents grass-roots conservative activists not included in the ACLJ lawsuit, recently echoed the view that conservative groups continue to be singled out in the run-up to the 2014 elections.

“The IRS is still, very deliberately targeting conservative organizations and subjecting them to additional intense and burdensome scrutiny — and this has not stopped,” she said. “This is still ongoing.”

According to House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan, the new proposed IRS regulations, which were first unveiled in November, appear to single out as political activity the precise sorts of programs tea party organizations typically run: Candidate forums, voter registration drives, and distributions of voter guides.

In a column published in the February edition of Newsmax Magazine, the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley A. Strassel contends that conservative groups are much more likely to become ensnared in the new proposed limitations.

She notes that neither unions, which conduct most of their activities as 501c5 groups, nor 501c3 organizations such as the liberal League of Women Voters Education Fund, are affected. That’s because the rules were not written to apply to those types of nonprofits.

The reaction of conservative activists has grown increasingly strident. Everett Wilkinson, chairman of the grass-roots National Liberty Federation organization, tells Newsmax: “Never before have we seen such attitudes and actions taken in America by an administration or government body.

“They are intentionally trying to silence the voices of millions of Americans, who all they want is to be heard.”

Wilkinson said his organization is closely following nine critical Senate races that could flip either way. But the fear of some that they could become targets of the IRS is having an impact, he says.

“Through this intimidation a lot of people have said, ‘I don’t know if I want to risk the IRS or the Treasury Department or whoever they’re going to send after me,’” he says.

Recent remarks by Democrats appear to have exacerbated conservatives’ concern that the IRS has been politicized.

In January, New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer urged the IRS to “redouble [its] efforts immediately” to constrain the tea parties.

During his Super Bowl interview with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, President Obama said there was “not even a smidgeon of corruption” involved. This despite the fact that the FBI has yet to release the findings of its investigation.

Such remarks appear aimed at energizing a Democratic base that has seen tea party nonprofits as fair game ever since the Citizens United ruling made it easier for corporations to get involved in politics.

Curiously, the IRS targeting has had relatively little impact on the major activist groups that raise millions of dollars each year.

A recent New York Times story reported that four major conservative organizations — FreedomWorks, Tea Party Patriots, the Club for Growth Action Fund, and the Senate Conservatives Fund — are actually outraising their more establishment GOP counterparts such as Crossroads GPS.

But unlike the big groups that can afford to “lawyer up,” it is the smaller activist organizations all over the country — with names like Linchpins of Liberty, Colorado 9/12 Project, First State Patriots, Mid-South Tea Party, and American Patriots Against Government Excess — who have been ensnared by the long arm of the IRS. Those smaller organizations are believed to play a key role in getting out the vote in local neighborhoods.

Wilkinson praises the myriad local tea parties as “the most effective system out there, compared to the Republican consulting groups that get millions of dollars in TV ads and radio ads.

“They put every dollar they have in, and their heart and soul. They’re getting people to the polls for maybe pennies on the dollar.”

How those groups will fare as the tax laws they must comply with grow increasingly complex and demanding is open to question.

French says the proposed IRS rules will mean “an enormous amount of activity undertaken on the basis of issues, is now re-characterized as political, and now subject to limits.

“That essentially takes a group’s ability to engage in issue advocacy and then completely neuters it in the days and the weeks leading up to an election, by defining political activity so very broadly,” he adds.

When the targeting controversy first broke last May, President Obama said the IRS targeting was “inexcusable,” and added: “I’m angry about it.”

The “social welfare” and issue-advocacy 501c4 organizations have received special attention in part because their donors’ names generally do not have to be disclosed.

The controversy over IRS targeting dates back to May 2013. That’s when former IRS executive Lois Lerner revealed that IRS personnel had acted in what she called an “absolutely inappropriate” way by holding up the non-profit applications of groups with the terms “tea party,” “patriot,” or “9/12” in their names.

The IRS asked the targeted groups to answer intrusive questionnaires regarding their activities — ranging from information on their members’ employers, donors lists, and even in one case how much time a particular organization spent “on prayer groups.”

At the time, GOP Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, received several complaints. He wrote a letter of inquiry to then-acting IRS Commissioner Stephen T. Miller.

Miller wrote back with assurances that no conservative groups were being targeted. But not long after Lerner’s disclosure, Miller was asked to resign.

The Obama administration has portrayed the IRS affair as a limited imbroglio involving a few rogue agents in the IRS’s Cincinnati office.

But Mitchell says several of her clients were told a final decision on their applications would be handed down from IRS offices in Washington, D.C.

Not every grass-roots leader is concerned that conservative activists’ IRS problems will work to Democrats’ advantage, however. Tea Party Express chairwoman Amy Kremer is among those predicting it will backfire.

“When all this came out about the IRS targeting, it made people mad,” she tells Newsmax. “It made them mad as hell.

“…You get these individuals, under whatever local group, they don’t care: They’re going to go out there, and work their hearts and souls out for the cause.”

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


By David A. Patten

Obama Voter Calls Obamacare ‘Unaffordable and Uncaring’.

A Tennessee woman who suffers from Lupus and attended last week’s State of the Union address as a guest of GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn says Obamacare has “made her life almost impossible.”

Emilie Lamb appears in ads funded by the conservative Americans for Prosperity, telling her personal story of how Obamacare has crippled her financially and medically.


Lamb, who voted for Obama in 2012, also wrote in an op-ed piece in The New York Post Monday that four years ago she would have been cheering the passage of the Affordable Care Act, thinking it would help her by giving her better coverage and reducing her medical bills even more.

“But the real Obamacare has made my life a nightmare,” she wrote, noting that her monthly coverage before Obamacare cost her $57 and was “perfectly suited” for her medical needs and limited financial means.

But her plan has since been cancelled and her monthly premium has skyrocketed to $373 after a small subsidy, and all for a plan now with inferior coverage.

“All told, I’m likely going to pay more than $6,000 more each year for my medical care,” she laments.

In order to afford the coverage, Lamb, 40, has been forced to take a second job.

“Given my health problems, the physical and emotional drain that this puts on me is difficult to bear,” she wrote in her Post piece. “It’s also made it much more difficult for me to care for my ailing mother, who depends on me for help.

“For me, the impact of ObamaCare is a health plan that is both unaffordable and uncaring,” she adds, noting that for “a law named ‘The Affordable Care Act,’ this is both backward and perverse.”

Lamb goes on to take the president to task for making her already difficult situation worse, and for not being forthcoming about the impact of his signature healthcare legislation.

“When you were on the campaign trail, you promised that ObamaCare would help me with my medical problems,” Lamb wrote “You promised that people like me with pre-existing conditions would be better off. And you promised that if I liked my health-care plan, I could keep it.

“Mr. President,” she continued, “you’ve now broken all of these promises — and not just to me.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Melissa Clyne

Republicans Shocked over Cheney Exit from Senate Race.

Wyoming Republicans expressed surprise today as Liz Cheney ended her primary challenge of U.S. Senator Michael Enzi, citing undisclosed health issues in her family.

“We were all shocked,” said Susan Thomas, a member of the state party’s executive committee and widow of former Senator Craig Thomas of Wyoming. “It would have been a close race. It was going to be a tough, hard-hitting race. This is obviously pretty big in her family or she wouldn’t have done this.”

In a posting to her Facebook account, Cheney said she was leaving the race because “serious health issues have recently arisen in our family.”

Cheney, 47, the eldest daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, said she was motivated to enter the contest because of her children and that “their health and well-being will always be my overriding priority.”

The challenger faced an uphill battle, and was criticized for not living in the state for long. The race pitted anti- government spending Tea Party activists against more traditional Republicans and reflected divisions that have burdened the party nationally since 2010, with some incumbents challenged if they’re viewed as too willing to compromise or not vocal enough in their opposition to Democrats.

Enzi, 69, who said July 16 that he would seek a fourth term, had said that Cheney told him that she wouldn’t run if he did, an assertion she challenged after entering the race.

Liz Cheney’s comments opposing same-sex marriage had set off a feud with her sister, Mary Cheney, who is a lesbian and married her partner last year.

In the statement, Cheney thanked her supporters.

“As a mother and a patriot, I know that the work of defending freedom and protecting liberty must continue for each generation,” she said. “Though this campaign stops today, my commitment to keep fighting with you and your families for the fundamental values that have made this nation and Wyoming great will never stop.”

Dick Cheney had criticized Enzi, as he sought to boost his daughter’s campaign.

“He doesn’t get much money from Wyoming,” Cheney said Oct. 27 on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” “In the quarter just reported, Liz got 25 percent of her funds from Wyoming; he got 13 percent of his from Wyoming.”

Liz Cheney had called Enzi part of an aging Republican establishment. Enzi held a 92 percent rating from the American Conservative Union, a Washington-based group that opposes President Barack Obama’s agenda.

The primary challenge split the Republican party, with incumbents such as Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican, volunteering to campaign for Enzi.

“I have grown to admire and respect Mike Enzi — I’ll tell you, he’s one of these solid guys,” McCain said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” in July. “I know nothing that Mike Enzi would do that didn’t deserve re-election.”

Thomas said she’d be surprised if any other serious candidates challenge Enzi.

“I don’t think so,” she said in a telephone interview. “I don’t think there will be anybody as strong as Liz.”

The stakes for the race were higher for the Cheney brand than the Republican Party’s efforts to win control of the Senate in 2014. In such a heavily Republican state — Mitt Romney beat President Barack Obama by 41 percentage points in November — the primary’s winner is almost certain to win the seat.

“However that race went, we would have had a Republican senator,” said Marti Halverson, a member of the Republican National Committee from Wyoming.

Cheney and her husband moved to the Jackson Hole area in the state’s picturesque northwest corner in 2012. Speculation about her political ambition started immediately.

Her parents, Dick and Lynne Cheney, live on an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course with views of the Teton Mountain Range. They hosted a $30,000-per-couple fundraiser for Romney in 2012 at the home.

After moving to the area, Liz Cheney started making frequent appearances at county-level Republican Party events, sometimes joined by her father.

Her campaign announcement highlighted her family’s more than 100-year Wyoming history, including her father’s representation of the state in Congress from 1979 to 1989, an effort to preempt charges that she’s a carpetbagger who moved from suburban Washington, D.C., to run for office.


© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Some Skip Conservative Conference, Cite DC Work.

Republicans’ divisions over the best tactics to use in Washington were apparent Saturday as more than a thousand conservatives gathered in the Midwest for a day-long pep rally with politicians and activists.

The regional Conservative Political Action Conference featured fiery rhetoric against taxes and the federal Affordable Care Act, signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama. It also included calls for conservatives to unite instead of fight among themselves.

The event was headlined by a pair of former presidential candidates — Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. But many of the U.S. senators and representatives who had been scheduled to speak canceled at the last moment. Convention organizers said the lawmakers stayed in Washington, where they face a midnight Monday deadline to pass a funding plan to avert a partial government shutdown.

The lone U.S. senator to show up at the event sponsored by the American Conservative Union was Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah. He received a standing ovation for aiding Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in this past week’s unsuccessful filibuster against funding for the federal health care law.

“We must assert our rights to live in a land that’s free from an oppressive, distant national government,” Lee said. But he later told the conservative crowd, “We need to remember there’s more that unites us than divides us.”

Others were far less conciliatory toward those who don’t strictly adhere to conservative principals.

“Republican elected officials who vote for tax increases are rat heads in a Coke bottle,” declared Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

Louisiana state Sen. Elbert Guillory, who switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party in May, referred to Obama as “the head termite” who is “destroying the fiscal integrity of this nation.”

American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas opened the event by praising Cruz’s filibuster and said conservatives are done “playing nice.”

“Conservatives are angry and rightly so,” Cardenas said. “We’re witnessing the first generation of Americans who instead of asking what they can do for America are far too eager to meekly accept liberal blandishments of what America can do for them.”

For Perry and Santorum, the conservative political conference marked their second appearance in the past month in Missouri, a traditional swing state that has increasingly leaned GOP in presidential elections. Santorum also spoke two weeks ago in Kansas City at a Republican leadership event.

Perry came to the St. Louis area last month to denounce Democratic Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of an income tax cut and recruit businesses to Texas. The governor, who isn’t running for re-election in 2014, arrived at the CPAC convention a day early to watch the St. Louis Cardinals and hold a Missouri press conference touting his creation of a nonprofit group focused on spreading his message of lower taxes and less government regulation.

Perry, noting he lived in Missouri 1969, sidestepped questions Saturday about whether he was laying the groundwork for a potential 2016 presidential bid. He steadily criticized Obama but not fellow Republicans.

“Obamacare is a failure before it even gets out of the gate. So defund it,” Perry told reporters. But he also said: “I don’t think anybody thinks that shutting down the government is a good option.”

Santorum said Republicans need to adopt new tactics — not new positions — if they are to defeat Democrats in national elections.

“We tell the American public that we are right, and we prove it to them by numbers, facts and figures,” Santorum said. “They tell the American public they understand, they relate and they care. … Like it or not, the best communicator, the best storyteller, that’s who wins.”


© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

ACU Announces List of Top Rising Conservative Leaders.

The American Conservative Union is announcing Monday its list of the most promising young conservative leaders with a list of its “10 under 40.”

The 10 have been invited to speak at the regional Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in St. Louis on September 28.

And Missouri holds pride of place on the list with three of the 10 coming from the Show-Me State.

“Our focus at CPAC has always been to showcase rising stars in the conservative movement and we are pleased to carry on that tradition in St. Louis,” said ACU Chairman Al Cardenas. “We look forward to hearing their thoughts on our conference’s theme: ‘America’s Future, The Next Generation of Conservatives.'”

The three from Missouri on the list are State Reps. Eric Burlison, Paul Curtman and Casey Guernsey.

Wisconsin is represented twice with state Rep. Tyler August and Milwaukee Board Supervisor Deanna Alexander.

Rounding out the Top 10 are Indiana state Sen. Carlin Yoder, and state Reps. Stefani Carter of Texas, Elise Hall of Oklahoma, Tom Leonard of Michigan, and Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff of Colorado.

“The 10 Under 40 Program is an ideal way to promote each of them and the ideas they are championing,” said Frank Donatelli, Chairman of the GOPAC Education Fund, one of the event’s partners.

“Sen. Yoder and Reps. August, Leonard and Navarro-Ratzlaff personify the brightest up-and-coming leaders in the conservative movement today,” he added.

“We are delighted to be partnering with the American Conservative Union to ensure our country has a deep bench of prepared leaders dedicated to lowering taxes, limiting government and creating a marketplace for private sector job creation.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Melanie Batley

Group of Conservatives Backs Action on Immigration.

More than two dozen conservative leaders have signed on to a statement supporting action to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws and calling legislation pending in the Senate an “important starting point.”

In a statement being released Thursday, the officials say: “Simply opposing immigration reform should not be the conservative response to this problem. We believe conservatives should be leading the way on this issue by supporting legislation that upholds conservative principles.”

Signers include Fred Malek, chairman of the American Action Forum; Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition; Paul Wolfowitz, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; Mat Staver, president and founder of Liberty Counsel; and Lawson Bader, president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

The statement was organized by Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union.

“Conservatives are ready to support immigration reform, so long as it is pro-economic growth, strengthens families, fosters assimilation and prevents another wave of illegal immigration from happening again,” the statement says.

Many of those signing the declaration took part in a meeting Tuesday with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., an author of the immigration bill who’s trying to sell it to conservatives. Rubio solicited their support in part by assuring them that the bill could change as it moved forward, and in their statement the officials say they don’t expect the legislation to pass as-is.

Not all of those who attended the meeting with Rubio signed on to the statement of support. Several tea party-affiliated officials were in the meeting but not on the statement.

Republicans are split on the immigration issue, with many in leadership roles or with ties to the business community coming out in favor of an overhaul, while others more driven by ideology or connected to the grass roots remain opposed.

The Senate Judiciary Committee begins considering amendments to the Senate bill on Thursday. The legislation would dramatically remake the nation’s immigration laws, strengthening the border, creating new worker programs and enforcement, and providing a path to citizenship for 11 million already here illegally.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cardenas on Obama: ‘I Don’t Think He Gets It After 5 Years’.

Al Cardenas, chairman of the influential American Conservative Union, declared to Newsmax TV on Friday that President Barack Obama’s proposed $3.8 trillion budget proves that “I don’t think he gets it after five years.”

“He continues to propose $850 billion in deficits per year in this new budget,” Cardenas told Newsmax at the Free Enterprise Leadership Summit in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., sponsored by the Job Creators Alliance. “The so-called cuts that he prescribes are really a play on numbers.

Story continues below video.

“They’re not real cuts. They’re a diminution of programs as opposed to savings in programs — and these savings are not something that his administration has ever accomplished in five years. It’s a waste of time.”

Obama earlier this week unveiled a budget proposal for fiscal 2014 that would limit tax deductions for top-earners, increase the estate tax, raise taxes for many lower-income households — and even lift taxes on tobacco. It would make modest cuts in Social Security by linking annual cost-of-living adjustments to a “chained” Consumer Price Index.

Now that the Senate has proposed its first budget in five years, “at least we have a set of numbers to work from — but unless the administration is willing to significantly move with Congress, it looks like it’s dead on arrival,” Cardenas said of the Obama proposal.

Cardenas said the gun-control debate also reflected the president’s inability to “get it.”

“We do have a crisis in crime in America, but the reason for crime rates and violence has nothing to do with gun ownership,” Cardenas told Newsmax. “They have to do with low enforcement. They have to do with mental attitudes. They have to do with the breakdown of the American family. They have to do with runaway drug consumption.

“These are the basic societal ills that lead to violent crime, and those are the ills that need to be discussed. This administration is not willing to do that because they consider a number of the impacted folks part of their constituency — and frankly, for their sake and the sake of America, we need to uncover and discuss the real reasons for crime — and they’re not gun ownership.”

While Cardenas reserved judgment on whether super PACs should be selecting political candidates, he predicted the “unfathomable” reality that former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist would win the Democratic nomination to challenge GOP Gov. Rick Scott next year.

Crist has switched parties from Republican to independent to Democrat since 2010.

“Here’s a man who said he was a Ronald Reagan Republican in a Fox News debate with Marco Rubio just two years ago — and now he’s gone from a Ronald Reagan conservative to somebody who’s pro everything that Nancy Pelosi is for,” Cardenas said.

He was referring to Rubio, the junior Florida GOP senator who beat Crist for the Senate seat, and Pelosi, a Democrat and the current U.S. House Minority Leader.

“How can one make such an evolution in their lives other than for political opportunity is beyond me,” Cardenas observed to Newsmax. “Whether Floridians, when it comes time to make a choice, will see through it or not, I hope they do.

“Rick Scott’s been doing a good job through the difficult times,” he added. “His slogan of ‘Let’s Get to Work’ seems to be working — and he deserves a second chance.

“Charlie Crist is not going to be underestimated in my opinion,” Cardenas said.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Todd Beamon and Kathleen Walter

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