IRS Playing Favorites with HSUS?

Realtree Outdoor News

IRS Playing Favorites with HSUS?

Posted 2013-05-20T12:11:00Z  by  <a href="/">Barbara Baird</a>,Barbara Baird

IRS Playing Favorites with HSUS?

The Internal Revenue Service is headline news these days, with recent revelations about its propensity to target certain political organizations and individuals who might exhibit a more conservative ideology. Last week, we found out about the possibility of favoritism from the IRS toward the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). So, the IRS is not only targeting certain groups, it is favoring others.

The IRS Exempt Organizations Division director, Lois Lerner, is one of the players in the recent investigation into the unjust tax investigations. In fact, she apologized officially for her role in delaying and overreaching into the personal lives of conservative nonprofit groups.

It has recently come to light that Lerner is an active member of the HSUS, and it is she who has refused to investigate a claim led by a congressman from my state into the lobbying practices of this animal rights group.

In March 2010, a congressman from Missouri, Blaine Luetkemeyer, sent a letter to the IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman as he believed the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) violated its tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group because of voracious lobbying. The HSUS routinely appears in Missouri, and probably your state, too, and lobbies on behalf of puppy mill bills and other animal rights legislation. If it's a bill that is going to change forever how hunting or wildlife or even domestic animals are regulated, often contrary to science-based management practices, you can bet the HSUS will be in there.

In 2009, the HSUS claimed it spent $26 million on “Advocacy and Public Policy,” which at that time equaled more than twice the spending on any of its other categories. Spending an overwhelming amount on lobbying, for any non-profit organization, should flag the IRS, and it should notify the organization of violations of charitable status. Tax-exempt charities may spend monies on lobbying, but not to that extent.

In an article at The Daily Caller, Patrick Howley wrote, “Lerner has been unresponsive to Luetkemeyer's office's repeated requests for status updates on the matter over the past three years.”

So, I called the HSUS. I spoke with Stephanie Twining, its public information officer in regard to the IRS-HSUS connection. She later sent me an email: “You will have to ask the IRS directly any questions you have about its work. I'm sorry we won't be able to help with your story.”

Since the IRS cannot comment about ongoing investigations, even though this one probably isn't ongoing, there was no point in calling them.

Then, I called Leutkemeyer's office. I talked to Paul Slaco, who is the press secretary. He said that on May 17, Rep. Luetkemeyer renewed his quest to find out what stalled, or his words – “stonewalled” – the inquiry of three years ago in a letter to U.S. Treasury Sec. Jacob Lew and U.s. Atty Gen. Eric Holder. In fact, he calls for an investigation.

Leutkemeyer wrote, “While it is disconcerting to think that Ms. Lerner, who oversees tax-exempt organizations for the IRS, may have disregarded my request for an investigation due to her own political beliefs or those of her staff, in light of the recent revelations about the activities of Ms. Lerner's office and in the absence of any other explanation from the IRS, many Americans will arrive at this very conclusion. With that in mind, I formally request that you investigate the IRS' handling of my requests and report back to me in a timely fashion. Anything short of a timely and thorough investigation threatens to undermine the vital work done by rule-abiding non-profit organizations across this nation.”

Time will tell, but we thought it important to let you readers know about this alleged connection between an animal rights organization and your government.