When the IRS Attacks
Recently, the IRS levied a fine (plus interest for each day it’s not paid) against Campaign for Liberty for withholding the names of our donors from the IRS on our annual 990 filing.
As a matter of principle, C4L believes it is vital to protect the privacy of our donors to prevent some form of retribution if the donor list should happen to “leak” out of the IRS.
As Megan Stiles told the Washington Examiner,
“There is no legitimate reason for the IRS to know who donates to Campaign for Liberty.”
“The IRS technically requires donor information from 501(c)(4) organizations and is forbidden by law from releasing it to the public, yet despite this they have ‘mistakenly’ released the information repeatedly over the years,” she wrote. “Often these leaks have been made to political opponents of the conservative groups whose information was leaked. Leaking the donor information is intended to harass and to intimidate those donors from donating to political causes. Campaign for Liberty has refused to provide donor information to the IRS to protect the privacy of our members. Now the IRS has demanded the information and fined Campaign for Liberty for protecting its members’ privacy.”
The First Amendment protects anonymous political speech as much as any other. Any straight forward reading of history would show the founder’s intent in this regard, as even the Federalist Papers — arguing for adoption of the new Constitution — were published anonymously under the pseudonym “Publius.” As ReasonTV asked in a segment on the DISCLOSE Act in 2010, “Who is Publius? And why should we trust his Federalist Papers?”
More recent history and court precedent also sides with Campaign for Liberty in this regard, as evidenced by cases such as NAACP v. Alabama and International Union UAW v. National Right to Work.
Ron Paul wrote in a letter to C4L members,
“Privacy and liberty go hand-in-hand.
In fact, when Thomas Paine published his pamphlet Common Sense in 1776, he did so anonymously.
Forcing organizations like Campaign for Liberty to publicize donor information would have an incredibly chilling effect on political speech.
Many liberty-loving Americans would silence themselves for fear of becoming targets of political ‘retribution.’”
If we can muster the resources, Campaign for Liberty plans to fight back against this fine with everything we have. But it’s not going to be cheap to fight this in court.
As Dr. Paul explained, “Paying this outrageous extortionist fine – just to exercise our rights as American citizens to petition our government -may even be cheaper in the short run. But it’ll just embolden an alphabet soup of other federal agencies to come after us.”
Many other 501(c)(4) organizations protect their donors privacy in the same way C4L does, yet for some reason, the IRS singled out C4L for harassment.
Below you’ll find the letter Campaign for Liberty received from the IRS.