Open IRS/501(c)4 Discussion: Crime and Damages
Today on the Rush Limbaugh Show guest host Doug Urbanski asked the following open-ended question about the “IRS Scandal”:
“Why has no one been fired or arrested for this clearly criminal activity?”
That comment led me to some linked questions that I’m currently working my way through. I thought that OTB readers (in particularly lawyers – paging Doug, PD and Rafer) might be interested in sharing their opinions.
Here are the three questions I’d love your (grounded) opinions on:
- Without a doubt we know that, according the TIGTA audit, IRS reviewers used inappropriate criteria to flag certain Tea Party 501(c)4 applications. But is that in and of itself a “clearly criminal act?” Is it even illegal? If you think so, please state what law it violated.
- And given that the 501(c)4 organizations under review were able to continue operating as 501(c)4′s during the review process, what are the potential damages that these groups can claim (beyond any additional legal fees and time lost responding to questions)?
- Finally, critics suggest that this was part of a larger effort to chill oppositional speech. As the organizations were able to continue to function as 501(c)4′s during the review period, how did this specifically chill speech?
BTW, extra points to anyone who can recommend a good analysis of the history of the 501(c)4 organizational form.