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Ungrounded Lightning's Journal: IRS rule muzzles email legislative alerts. 11

Journal by Ungrounded Lightning

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A new IRS rule (PDF here) would effectively ban advocacy groups from informing their members of pending legislation during the weeks before an election. This would allow legisltaors ram through unpopular legislation before their constituents find out and object.

It can be applied to groups of any political leaning, but is subjective enough to selective enforcement against only those groups unpopular with the IRS bureaucracy and/or the administration. Here is an explanation of how this would work, by one affected organization.

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IRS rule muzzles email legislative alerts.

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  • Ignore it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ralphclark (11346) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @07:22PM (#8016101) Journal
    If this becomes law I advise ignoring it completely. It's one of those things they try to sneak under the radar, naively assuming that once it's in, it's in for good.

    Wrong.

    The minute they try to enforce this, there will be a massive backlash from the press, the public, everybody. Those responsible for drafting it will very likely be left flapping in the wind. This isn't one of your geek minority issues, it's a frontal assault on freedom of speech that everybody can understand. Pity the poor idiot who thought it would be a good idea.
    • The minute they try to enforce this, there will be a massive backlash from the press, the public, everybody. Those responsible for drafting it will very likely be left flapping in the wind. This isn't one of your geek minority issues, it's a frontal assault on freedom of speech that everybody can understand.

      I'm afraid I can't agree. Because essentially the same issue ust went all the way to the supremem court, where it was upheld.

      That was the McCain-Feingold "campaign finance reform" act. This puts str
      • Well nobody said it won't be messy. But I still believe that the moment the general public gets wind of this (and made to realize where it leads, courtesy of an indignant press) there will be substantial opposition.
        • But I still believe that the moment the general public gets wind of this (and made to realize where it leads, courtesy of an indignant press) there will be substantial opposition.

          Why should the press be indignant. This makes them into a much larger power. It doesn't apply to them, but eliminates their major competition as a news source, public opinion shaper, public activity mobilizer, and politican influencer.

          The press' political power comes from its ability to propagandize, and one of the biggest too
          • I suppose I didn't read it carefully enough, it seemed to me from a casual reading that the regulations would also prevent the press from blowing the whistle on the type of guerilla legislation concerned here. But I'll take your word for it. So we may be on our own, but we're still morally obliged to ignore any such laws. Freedom - use it or lose it.

  • It looks to me as if this would only affect PR campaigns, not newsletters to members (see 527(e)2 in the PDF). Overall, the organization you linked to is missrepresenting what it says there; it explicitly states in the PDF that they could object to legislation, etc.

    -- MarkusQ

    P.S. Gack. I'm defending the IRS. I have to go puke now.

    • It looks to me as if this would only affect PR campaigns, not newsletters to members (see 527(e)2 in the PDF). Overall, the organization you linked to is missrepresenting what it says there; it explicitly states in the PDF that they could object to legislation, etc.

      I respectfully disagree. Yes, the IRS document put that prominently up front. But the devil is in the details. When you get to the six "balancing tests" you'll find that the heavily-touted "permission" to exercise free speech is actually a
      • When you get to the six "balancing tests" [...].

        Oops. Six factors pushing the vauge balancing test toward not-OK (with the caveat that these are NOT exhaustive, meaning the IRS can make up more on-the-fly), five puhing it toward OK.

        Note that the IRS deciding that something is NOT OK can be a virtual death sentence for a public advocacy organization - if the IRS wants to kill it. First they demand income taxes on any money spent on the campaign. Then they add on penalties. Then they can (if they're fe

      • MarkusQ: t looks to me as if this would only affect PR campaigns, not newsletters to members (see 527(e)2 in the PDF). Overall, the organization you linked to is missrepresenting what it says there; it explicitly states in the PDF that they could object to legislation, etc.

        Ungrounded Lightning: I respectfully disagree. Yes, the IRS document put that prominently up front. But the devil is in the details. When you get to the six "balancing tests" you'll find that the heavily-touted "permission" to exercise

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