Did Senator Bennet pressure the IRS to target Karl Rove’s 501(c)4 because it invested in advertisements against him in the 2010 election? Early in the IRS investigation scandal, View From a Height blogger Joshua Sharf dusted off a Michael Bennet press release that was issued the same day Bennet co-signed the now-infamous letter to the IRS commissioner requesting investigation of certain 501(c)4 groups. This press release mentioned one, and only one participant in the entire population of 501(c)4 groups, and that was Karl Rove.
Perhaps Bennet’s mention wasn’t simply targeting the largest or most well-known C4 on the block. Rove’s American Crossroads group invested nearly $6 million in advocacy advertising against Bennet during his 2010 campaign against Republican Ken Buck. Given these statistics, it’s clear why Bennet single out Karl Rove in a press release issued the same day that the contacted the IRS Commissioner on the identical topic.
This is an area of great concern, given the chilling effect that real and potential IRS investigations have on free speech, and our nation’s checkered past when it comes to these issues. The parallels between Nixon’s tactics and Bennet’s actions are worth noting. From the Second Article of Impeachment drawn up against President Richard Nixon:
“He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavored to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposed not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.” (Peak emphasis)
Bennet’s attempts to sweep this under the rug and simply shrug off the consequences of his intimidation are disturbing.