IRS targets Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty

The Internal Revenue Service is still targeting conservative and liberty-minded groups, nearly a year after now-disgraced agency official Lois Lerner admitted to the inappropriate scrutiny.

In an email on Thursday, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) told supporters that Campaign for Liberty is now under fire from the IRS. The powerful tax agency, he says, has just hit the liberty-minded nonprofit with “a hefty fine” and “demanded” that it “turn over sensitive contributor information.”

“This is one of the toughest letters I’ve ever had to send,” Paul wrote to supporters. “For years, people have joked that the three most feared letters in the English language may well be these … I – R – S.”

“But today, I’m not laughing,” said Paul. “Just days ago, the IRS handed Campaign for Liberty a hefty fine and DEMANDED we turn over sensitive contributor information.”

Paul explained that failure to comply with the IRS’s demands could mean additional fines that could severely impact the work that Campaign for Liberty is doing and possibly force the group to shut down.

Because Campaign for Liberty is a 501(c)(4), donor information is supposed to be confidential. The organization, like many others targeted by the IRS, promotes economic and individual liberty and focuses its efforts on grassroots activism and education. It does not endorse candidates, in which case the organization would have to disclose

“Forcing organizations like Campaign for Liberty to publicize donor information would have an incredibly chilling effect on political speech,” wrote Paul. “Many liberty-loving Americans would silence themselves for fear of becoming targets of political ‘retribution.’”

That concern is valid. Corporate donors to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative think tank, were pressured by leftist activists to cease their giving. The Obama campaign used FEC disclosures to intimidate Romney donors.

And more recently, Brendan Eich was pressured to resign his post as Mozilla’s CEO because he gave to the organizers of Proposition 8, California’s 2008 anti-gay marriage campaign.

“Campaign for Liberty is run on a shoestring budget. We don’t have millions lying around in the bank,” says Paul. “This is about draining us. This is about forcing me to take resources off of other critical programs just to keep our doors open.”

“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,” he notes, adding that doing so will ”just embolden an alphabet soup of other federal agencies to come after us.”

The organization has pledged to fight the IRS’s demands and is currently raising funds for what could be contentious legal fight.

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