The IRS is investigating the tax-exempt status of the American Accountability Foundation (AAF) following its reporting on President Joe Biden’s nominees, several of whom withdrew their nominations, according to a letter obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The IRS is requesting AAF submit internal financial data as well as communications, including meeting notes, publications and newsletters, according to the letter from the IRS to AAF obtained by the DCNF. The conservative nonprofit organization, which the IRS approved for tax-exempt status in August 2021, alleges the investigation is in retaliation for the AAF reporting on several recent Biden nominees who later withdrew their nominations.
“This sudden request by the IRS is not random,” AAF President Tom Jones stated. “The IRS is demanding ‘[c]orrespondence files, emails and information posted on a website that relates to current public elected officials’ – clearly a sign that they are targeting our research and education activities. It’s a deliberate attempt to punish and suppress AAF’s activities. It is surely no coincidence that AAF—the very organization that exposed the weaponization of the IRS—is now the target of it.”
AAF has actively criticized several Biden nominees, calling on them to withdraw.
For instance, Biden’s FCC chair nominee Gigi Sohn donated to several Senate Commerce Democrats, including $550 to Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, $100 to Democratic Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and John Fetterman and $200 to Democratic Sen. Michael Bennett, according to The Washington Examiner. AAF sent a letter to Bennett, Cortez, Masto, Fetterman and Warnock, calling on the lawmakers that received contributions to recuse themselves from voting on Sohn’s nomination and calling for Sohn to withdraw.
“It’s state-sponsored propaganda, with few if any opposing viewpoints,” Sohn added.
AAF spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on billboards and advertisements to persuade Americans that Sohn should not be FCC chair, the group said.
AAF also spent weeks in 2022 criticizing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nominee Ann Carlson for her “radical” statements on energy and climate, including blaming Americans for loving “their cars and their cheap gas.” The White House withdrew her nomination after backlash.
Democratic Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse attempted to influence the agency to open an investigation into conservative organization Turning Point USA, according to documents obtained by AAF in November 2022. This included calling for the IRS to look into revoking Turning Point USA’s tax-exempt status due to hosting a large event without masks and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IRS audit is for the purpose of certifying that AAF “operates in accordance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code,” according to the letter.
“We demand that this abuse is put to an end at once,” Jones asserted. “The Biden administration is acting as the gangster arm of the Left. Our Constitution and Declaration of Independence guarantee our God-given right to speak the truth about the powerful without being punished and harassed. We will do everything in our power to keep America free.”
Under former President Barack Obama, IRS officials under Lois Lerner targeted conservative groups when reviewing tax-exempt status. IRS officials under Lerner participated in choosing groups with the words “tea party,” “patriot” or “9/12” in their names for audits.
“As the attorney for many conservative, tea party groups targeted and harassed by the Obama IRS a decade ago, this certainly smacks of the exact same tactics used by the IRS then….and apparently being used again now against AAF,” attorney Cleta Mitchell said in a statement.
Jason Cohen on November 6, 2023