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To Silence Political Dissent, IRS Issues New Rule Censoring Our Free Speech

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CensoredANH-USA could be targeted—along with your right to political representation. Action Alert!

In May 2013, the IRS was caught illegally discriminating against Tea Party groups applying for 501(c)4 nonprofit status. In the wake of the scandal, the IRS worked to eliminate illegal censorship of political dissent—by attempting to legalize it.

On Black Friday, under cover of a day when no one follows the news, the IRS issued proposed rules to severely restrict the activities of 501(c)4 nonprofit organizations such as ANH-USA. These rules would place strict limitations on speech, eliminate your voice in the political process, and put consumer advocacy nonprofits like ANH-USA under a gag order, leaving powerful private interests and their government allies free to operate in secret. In short, the new IRS rules are an egregious violation of the First Amendment.

501(c)4s are defined as tax-exempt organizations that “primarily” work to “promote social welfare” (for example, through public education), but that are still allowed to engage in political activity. The IRS’s new rules would shift many activities traditionally classified as “social welfare” and recategorize them as “political intervention.” Worse, the IRS is seeking to strictly limit the meaning of the word “primarily” so that, for example, the IRS could allow 501(c)4s to engage in political activities only .01% of the time…essentially eliminating their ability to take any political action!

The new IRS rules also censor what 501(c)4s can tell the public. For example, even naming a candidate in any public communication through any medium, even orally—and this includes even vague references to him or her—within sixty days of a general election or thirty days of a primary election will be considered “political activity.”

Under these rules, the speech of 501(c)4s will be severely curtailed, as they may be afraid to engage in any political activities for fear of IRS or government retaliation. Any disgruntled politician could easily ask the IRS to revoke the 501(c)4 status of groups who disagree with his or her politics! Also, incumbents will be given a thirty- to sixty-day free pass to introduce legislation with limited public scrutiny.

Consider the implications: Sen. Durbin of Illinois—you may remember him as the anti-supplement senator who wants to regulate supplements like drugs—is up for reelection in 2014. If he reintroduces or has new anti-natural health legislation filed during the sixty days before legislation, ANH-USA would be preventing from telling you about his connection to it.

Moreover, the IRS’s definition of “candidate” is absurdly broad—it can even be an individual up for nomination or appointment to any public office. As nominees are often current regulators, this means we wouldn’t be able to tell you about their connection to federal rules under debate…like the one we’re telling you about right now!

Federal law has in the past been quite clear that regulatory matters are not considered part of politics. It is not considered lobbying to contact your legislator about proposed rule changes. Now suddenly, in clear violation of the law, regulatory processes are going to be equated with electoral politics. This is very wrong and needs to be stopped now.

Without 501(c)4s—organizations that pool the resources of many like-minded individuals—the only remaining political influences will be the huge industries (Big Pharma, Big Agro, and Big Biotech included), unions, and other special interests that can afford to make enormous contributions and hire expensive lobbyists.

Action Alert! The IRS has no business in politics. Tell the agency to rescind this political gag order and protect the right of political dissenters and organizations that represent individuals like you! Please send your message to the IRS immediately!


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