New IRS Regulations Threaten Freedom of Speech Rights for American Family Association
Former IRS Official Lois Lerner Pleads the Fifth During Hearing About IRS Targeting of Conservative Groups
A government committee hearing turned tense last week when former IRS
official Lois Lerner pleaded the Fifth Amendment while on the stand at a
hearing to investigate whether the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has targeted
Lerner was asked about specific emails regarding the politics of IRS
practices and why the IRS gave heightened scrutiny to conservative groups with
the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their names when reviewing applications
for tax-exempt status.
Related to the news is the furor over proposed IRS regulations that would
give the tax agency authority to restrict American Family Association
and other groups from releasing voter guides and other election information
that provides valuable decision-making details for voters. The regulations
would limit those who organize voter guides, legislative scorecards,
get-out-the-vote campaigns and even voter registration activities by defining
such civic engagement as “candidate-related political activity.”
“Through these proposed regulations that will prohibit voter guides and
legislative scorecards such as those from American Family Association, this
administration is stripping citizens of their freedom of speech rights,” said
AFA President Tim Wildmon. “How legislators voted should be common knowledge as
Americans make their election decisions. The government is attempting to
criminalize any sort of disagreement or dissent about current policies and
practices. The IRS’ responsibility was never to police the political process,
but to collect revenue for the government. Why is the IRS even a part of this
Many, including AFA, believe these rules are an attempt to
shut down conservative organizations like AFA, Family Research
Council, Concerned Women for America and the Tea Party. AFA already
has its comprehensive voter guides and legislative scorecards in the works for
the general election this fall.
“If these rules are adopted by the IRS, it would have a negative
effect on non-profit organizations that provide voter information,” Wildmon
continued. “For example, election-themed emails from organizations like AFA
would be considered political activity and could jeopardize AFA’s non-profit
status. In addition, groups like AFA would no longer be able to distribute
voter guides, promote voter registration, report voting records of elected
officials or even mention the names of candidates who are running for election.
Eventually, these rules could filter down to churches, simply at the whim of
the IRS, basically silencing conservatives and Christians for exercising their
patriotic and civic freedoms.”
The IRS accepted online comments regarding the matter through the end of
last month, and more than 140,000 comments were submitted—including over 16,000
from American Family Association friends and supporters.
For the Lerner testimony, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) reconvened a hearing Wednesday that began more
than nine months ago after the scandal was exposed in 2013. Lerner also
asserted her Fifth Amendment right not to testify last May and refused to
answer any questions that may incriminate her.
For more information on American Family Association, visit www.afa.net.
To interview a representative from American
Family Association, contact Deborah Hamilton at email@example.com,
215-815-7716 or 610-584-1096.
American Family Association (AFA) a non-profit 501(c3) organization
was founded in 1977 by Donald E. Wildmon, who was pastoring First
United Methodist Church in Southaven, Mississippi, at the time. Since
1977, AFA has been on the frontlines of America’s culture war. The original
name of the ministry was National Federation for Decency but was changed to
American Family Association in 1988. Today, AFA is one of the largest and most
effective pro-family organizations in the country with more than one million
online supporters and approximately 180,000 paid subscribers to the AFA Journal, the ministry’s monthly magazine. In addition,
AFA owns and operates nearly 200 radio stations across the country under
the American Family Radio banner.
Other divisions of AFA include American Family Radio, the AFA Foundation
and OneNewsNow.com, an online news provider that is syndicated
around the world. AFA maintains activist web sites such as OneMillionMoms.com that rally Christian activists to
contact companies asking them to drop their advertising from objectionable TV
shows. AFA websites average over 6 million unique visitors and 44 million hits
per year. AFA uses all these means to communicate an outspoken, resolute,
Christian voice throughout America.