Conservative grassroots groups FreedomWorks, Club for Growth Action Fund, Senate Conservatives Fund, and the Tea Party Patriots, raised $20 million last year, according to news reports. “This is by far the biggest nonelection year we’ve ever had,” said Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund. “It shows how committed people are to electing true conservatives and to advancing conservative principles.” The three groups run by GOP consultant Karl Rove — American Crossroads (super PAC), Crossroads GPS, Conservative Victory Project (super PAC) — took in a combined $6.1 million in 2013. In the 2012 election cycle, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS together raised $325 million.
Republicans are fighting back against proposed new IRS rules that they say would make formal the tax agency’s infamous crackdown on Tea Party groups that oppose the Obama agenda, stripping them of their free speech rights during election cycles. The new rules, first unveiled around Thanksgiving when no one was paying attention, would prevent so-called 501(c)(4) social welfare/advocacy groups from participating in certain kinds of political activity. Such nonprofit organizations would be prevented from communicating with voters about candidates or political parties within 60 days of a general election. “Every American needs to know about this abuse of power,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) said in a recent speech on the Senate floor. Although new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said he did not participate in drafting the rules, he has refused demands to block their implementation. Senate Democrats such as Mark Begich (Alaska) and Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.) are demanding that the IRS crack down further on right-leaning nonprofits like Americans for Prosperity.
Some groups on the left don’t support the proposed IRS regulations. The American Civil Liberties Union said that “[s]ocial welfare organizations praise or criticize candidates for public office on the issues and they should be able to do so freely, without fear of losing or being denied tax-exempt status, even if doing so could influence a citizen’s vote.” Such advocacy is “the heart of our representative democracy” and if social welfare groups influence voting, they do so only by “promoting an informed citizenry.”