This column by ACRU Policy Board Member J. Christian Adams was published on April 17, 2014 on PJ Media.
Yesterday was a significant day in the IRS abuse scandal. The scandal evolved from being about pesky delays in IRS exemption applications to a government conniving with outside interests to put political opponents in prison.
Emails obtained by Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act reveal Lois Lerner cooking up plans with Justice Department officials to talk about ways to criminally charge conservative groups that are insufficiently quiet.
Larry Noble, a law professor now with the Soros-funded Campaign Legal Center, was cited in the emails as someone agitating to jail conservatives who “falsely” report on IRS forms that they are not engaged in political speech. Lerner talked about setting up meetings with Justice Department election lawyers who wanted to talk about making Noble’s dreams a reality — this after Senator Sheldon Whitehouse raised the idea of criminal charges for conservatives who are not sufficiently quiet, charges that they falsely completed an IRS tax exemption form.
Their theory is a favorite among speech regulators in the Soros-funded left and academia. It goes like this: “Too much speech is bad (unless unions do it.) Groups who talk about things leftists find uncomfortable are necessarily political and thus should never have 501(c) tax exempt status. Criminally charge any group that said on their IRS tax exempt form that they were not political if they say things the left finds uncomfortable. Get Eric Holder’s Justice Department on the case.”
The emails obtained by Judicial Watch reveal this is essentially what was going on behind the scenes at the IRS, DOJ, and with outside leftist interests.
The emails, so far, only name a few of the speech regulators involved. But there are many who don’t appear in the latest document dump that give life to the cause of limiting the First Amendment.
Hans von Spakovsky, a former commissioner on the Federal Election Commission, is intimately familiar with the scope and power of the speech regulators. He said: “Ever since I came to Washington, I’ve been shocked at the liberal politicians like Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, advocacy groups like Democracy 21 and Fred Wertheimer, and government bureaucrats at the FEC and the Justice Department who want to use the power of government to censor their opponents. They hate the First Amendment and would fit right into the Soviet Union.”
All roads in the IRS scandal run through Citizens United, the Supreme Court case that sent the speech regulators into a frenzy when it allowed private citizens to spend money to express their views without government regulation. Even President Obama attacked Citizens United in a State of the Union address. Justice Samuel Alito mouthed his opinion about Obama’s truthfulness during the speech.
Citizens United, in timing and substance, was the genesis of the IRS scandal.
So who are the speech regulators seeking to impose government limits on the exercise of the First Amendment?
Like bats in the belfry, they tend to congregate online at University of California at Irvine Law Professor Rick Hasen’s election blog.
Hasen runs an online meeting hall for all the would-be speech totalitarians. They post, bluster, and kibitz about the latest news on their effort to erode the First Amendment and increase federal power. Whenever a free speech advocate seeks to contribute to the conversation at the blog, they are often deliberately given a cold shoulder and ignored, per plan. The ignored don’t understand that leftists aren’t interested in debate. Their pedigree requires the eradication of opposing ideas, not their incubation.
But perhaps the ignored should be thankful. Being ignored is better than what the speech regulators have done in other places throughout history. Jail and truncheons are the usual tools of those who want to stamp out free speech. In America, the speech regulators have just begun to warm up to jail as a tool.
That Hasen’s online hangout is hosted on government servers provides an interesting twist.
Judicial Watch sent the University of California at Irvine a freedom of information request demanding Hasen’s emails to the White House and other government officials including any on the topic of speech regulations. The University told Judicial Watch to pound sand, and still hasn’t provided anything.
Yesterday’s IRS email revelation makes you wonder what Cal-Irvine is hiding.
So who are some of the other speech regulators who haven’t shown up on IRS scandal documents yet?
One of the top speech regulators is former White House counsel and Obama campaign lawyer Bob Bauer. As I noted at PJ Media:
Robert Bauer had the motive to direct IRS policy against Tea Party groups. He is a longtime opponent of First Amendment freedoms and an advocate of government-speech regulation. He also can’t stand the work the Tea Party is conducting to monitor and eradicate voter fraud, work the Republican Party and national campaigns have utterly failed to perform.
During the 2008 election, while representing the Obama campaign, Bauer sent a threatening letter to the Justice Department demanding criminal investigations of people who had the audacity to speak about voter fraud. Bauer even singled out Sarah Palin in the letter. Anyone who “developed or disseminated” information about voter fraud, to Bauer, deserved the heavy boot of a criminal investigation. Read the letter; it reveals a nasty, thuggish, and lawless attitude toward political opposition.
There’s that jail thing again. They just can’t resist that totalitarian impulse against political opponents.
Other campaigns have had speech regulator attorneys — even Republicans. Trevor Potter was John McCain’s head lawyer in 2008, and he founded the now Soros-funded Campaign Legal Center. He helped cook up the McCain-Feingold speech regulations.
Scads of well-funded groups also exist to stamp down free speech, groups like Common Cause and Demos.
The new, more sinister IRS scandal is deadly dangerous to Democrats. It isn’t dangerous because bureaucrats took too long to approve tax exemption applications. It’s dangerous because it reveals the authoritarian impulses of powerful Democrats. First they tried to shut up political opposition through threats and bureaucracy. Then we learn yesterday that Democrats and leftists at the Justice Department, the United States Senate, and the Internal Revenue Service were discussing jailing political opponents.
Just wait until the American people learn more about the modern American version of history’s speech regulators.