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Senate Should Reject IRS Chief Amid Cloud of Suspicion

Sept. 12, 2018

Senate Should Reject IRS Chief Amid Cloud of Suspicion

Statements from Public Citizen Experts

Note: Today, the U.S. Senate has scheduled a cloture vote on the confirmation of Charles Rettig, President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Internal Revenue Service (IRS.) If confirmed later in the week, as expected, Rettig will enter the agency as questions swirl surrounding the Treasury Department’s decision earlier this year to end the requirement that some nonprofit organizations disclose to the IRS names of people and entities that donate more than $5,000.

Public Citizen has sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the Treasury Department to find out the rationale behind the decision to stop requiring the information. This requirement was one of the only ways the government could detect foreign election spending.

“Senators are right to raise questions surrounding Rettig’s confirmation in light of this troubling decision. We are eager to find out why this decision to bury nonprofit donors in darkness came when it did, without any chance for the public or affected organizations to weigh in. The changes are a blow to the integrity of our elections and the nonprofit sector, and is a blaring signal to those looking to game the system that they can do it with impunity.”

– Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs

“Changing this requirement should be seen in the broader context, including the years of legislative inaction surrounding the vague rules that define political activity for nonprofits and the increasing calls to eliminate the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits churches and charities from endorsing political candidates. Taken together, these things amount to a clarion call to bad actors: Spend what you will in our elections, there will be no accountability or enforcement.”

– Emily Peterson-Cassin, coordinator, Bright Lines Project