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Oct 03

Political Speech and the IRS: Protecting the First Amendment

The First Amendment was intended to protect political speech and encourage participation in the political life of the nation. Campaign finance laws implemented over the past four decades have imposed various restrictions on political speech as have tax laws as they have been interpreted by the Internal Revenue Service. Congress is now conducting an investigation of the possible targeting by the IRS of conservative tea party and other groups because of their political views and beliefs, and lawsuits are pending over the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive donor and tax information by the IRS. Did the IRS unfairly target certain organizations? What is the status of their claims and the investigation? How far can the government go in balancing the interests of preventing public corruption with encouraging open and spirited political debate? Do IRS tax rules need to be changed to protect the First Amendment rights of advocacy organizations? Do current campaign finance rules restrict political speech and discourage participation by citizens and associations? Three experts, including a lawyer representing conservative organizations, the head of an advocacy group targeted by unauthorized disclosures, and a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, will discuss these issues. The panel will be moderated by a former FEC commissioner.

More About the Speakers

Dr. John C. Eastman
Chairman, National Organization for Marriage 

Cleta Mitchell
Partner, Foley & Lardner 

Bradley A. Smith
Chairman, Center for Competitive Politics

Hosted By

Hans A. von Spakovsky Hans A. von Spakovsky

Manager, Election Law Reform Initiative and Senior Legal Fellow Read More