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Left Wing, Anti-Kavanaugh Groups Could Lose Non-Profit Status Over Illegal Activity

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Civil disobedience. It is something occasionally used as a form of protest, but it is also something witnessed recently during the hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

The internet went wild with claims that the protesters were paid to protest. Images were shared online that appeared to some to show a cash exchange between organizers and protesters prior to protesting.

Witnesses even came forward who claimed to have seen the cash handed out. And, billionaire George Soros got blamed for funding the whole thing.

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However, journalist Tim Pool said that there was more to it. He explained that the organizations in question had been handing out money to cover the fines they knew would come when protesters were arrested for their civil disobedience. He added this is a common occurrence.

https://twitter.com/Timcast/status/1037794513018859520

But, such an act, by certain organizations, is actually against IRS rules. Some organizations may now lose their tax-exempt status because of the cash exchange.

Should any group paying people to engage in 'civil disobedience' lose their tax-exempt status with the IRS?

According to The Daily Caller, “Ruling 75-384 ‘holds that an organization … that planned and sponsored protest demonstrations at which members were urged to commit acts of civil disobedience did not qualify for IRC 501(c)(3) or (4) exemption,’ the IRS states in a document detailing activities that would bar organizations from tax exemption. Organizers on Monday’s call consistently described the planned disruptions as acts of ‘civil disobedience.’”

Two campaign finance lawyers told The Daily Caller the activities of the groups put their status at risk.

Campaign finance lawyer and conservative activist, Cleta Mitchell said, “These groups should lose their tax-exempt status because of these actions, which are in violation of established IRS precedent. In addition to the IRS rules that they have violated, these groups should lose any government funding they receive — taxpayers should not be subsidizing bail money for people hired by these groups to break the law.”

“There are no doubt many rules and regulations which they have violated for grantees in receipt of federal funds/ hey should be required to return the funds to the U.S. Treasury and be permanently barred from receiving additional federal funds.”

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Conservative campaign finance lawyer Elliot Berke said, “If these groups were actually financing illegality, their tax-exempt status most certainly could be in jeopardy.” But what the groups are doing isn’t exactly a matter of speculation.

Women’s March senior adviser Winnie Wong detailed some of their activities, things that may not put them in jeopardy with the IRS, to CNN. “This is well-organized and scripted. This isn’t chaos.”

She also elaborated on what exactly they pay for. “The group lends financial support for travel, accommodation, legal training and bail. The arrests Monday resulted in a $35 to $50 bail, which the group paid for.”

The Daily Caller wrote that “organizing such conduct isn’t allowed under IRS rules and is ‘incompatible with charity and social welfare,’ according to IRS rules.” Indiana University professor Leslie Lenkowsky, who’s an expert in nonprofits and public policy told them that it may not be as straightforward a matter as it appears.

“The general principle is tax-exempt organizations, like any organization, can’t deliberately violate the law. By definition, when you engage in civil disobedience you’re going out to violate the law.”

“However, an organization could walk up to the line very closely, with respect to civil disobedience, while also claiming that it really didn’t ask these people to do it. ‘We were happy they did, but we’re not doing it as agents of this particular organization,’ the defense might be. That’s the kind of hair-splitting we’re going to see.”

For now, we will have to wait and see what the IRS will do about the matter. And organizations such as Women’s March may continue to do as they have, without IRS interference or consequences, until and unless something changes.

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